PNG rightly earns the envy of its brother Pacific Island nations for having been blessed and endowed with much rich natural resources and great wealth.
With such wealth, PNG can boast rapid developments and modernisations of its cities towns provinces and districts. Its wealth should also translate to admirable status in terms of its human developments, social and economic indicators.
The billions invested in infrastructural developments over the years such as roads, bridges, hospitals, health centres, clinics, universities, colleges secondary and lower grade schools etc would have truly spurred and transformed PNG from a cash-strapped nation to genuine developing nation status and seriously rivalling other similar economies.
But ironically, PNG is still lagging far behind.
People, including some of our best brains and most experienced human resource and the country’s general workforce are still dying prematurely from preventable and curable diseases due to lack of locally available and affordable essential lifesaving medical equipment and procedures, expertise medicines and medical drugs.
We also still only have seasonal road access to a great number of our rural districts and urban centres that get quickly damaged and get cut off on the onset of every raining deluge and storms which are normal local weather patterns.
Moreover, some 70 per cent-plus of the population are still illiterate, a lot of rural districts still conduct school classes in bush material classrooms or under trees and without desks or text books, let alone electricity or running piped water.
Thus, PNG is still struggling to bring or improve basic essential services to the rural masses despite being rich and independent for 40 years.
Even the country’s life and economic lifeline and main link to the Highlands region and rich natural resources and port facilities are not spared the intermittent road obstructions from landslips or landslides if not criminal and human interventions.
One of the major impediments to sustained infiltration and delivery of basic government services into the rural and remote areas is the crippling maintenance costs of maintaining and repairing major infrastructure such as roads. Bridges, government public service buildings etc.
The integrity and initial work quality on these public infrastructures directly determine their durability, functionality and returned benefits gained for the benefit and wellbeing of people in terms of improved living standards and quality of life for the bulk if not the whole population and the country’s economic prosperity.
The ridiculously high rework and maintenance cost on public infrastructures are the result of obvious failure or lack of stringent close supervision and control by the appointed government agencies and their agents to ensure enforcement of technical specifications, which naturally undermine the designed and structural integrity of the structure resulting in their costly premature damage and rework.
A common and classic example is the premature breakdown and deterioration of ridiculously overpriced sealed city roads in NCD.
Thus, a persistent nagging question on the lips of people on the streets is the baffling high costs of these city roads given the obvious availability and ready access to construction materials as compared to building roads in outstations or remote locations which would obviously involve significantly more costly logistical support.
These questionable road costs unavoidably tend to conjure up images of collaborative malpractices misappropriations and daylight robbery in the guise of development.
Repairing, ripping up, re-doing whole sections of some roads and drains just months after completion to repair and correct specifications that weren’t followed by the contractor is nothing more than bulldust and sheer incompetence of the supervising project team.
These are some of the causes of high maintenance costs that continue to deprive the rural areas of much needed basic government services.