Risky crossing for vehicles on flooded road

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VEHICLES are still making risky crossings at the flooded section of the Okuk Highway at Zumin in Markham, Morobe.
This is despite an excavator dispatched by the provincial Works on Wednesday to clear up the highway for traffic.
When The National visited the affected site yesterday,  vehicles were stranded on both sides of the road and were crossing the flooded section at risk.
Two sections of the road, about 100 metres apart, had part of the bitumen washed away by flood waters, creating ditches about 50 centimetres (knee level).
Lae-Madang bus driver Matthew Morowa, of Chuave, Chimbu, said while travelling to and from his route since the flooding started two weeks ago, he had witnessed three 15-seater buses bogged down in the flooded Zumin section.
Morowa, who drives a Muno 3-10 bus, said: “This road is in a very bad state.
“We are making risky crossings over these holes in the middle of the highway.
“I call on the government to fix this road quickly.”
Morowa said it was costing the bus drivers more to operate on the road because they were paying K10 every time they were assisted by locals to cross.
“This road has been like this for the last two weeks,” Morowa said.
“Many small vehicles have bogged down here because their engines have ceased.”
Collin Kale, 35, a betel nut buyer from Dei in Western Highlands, said he had waited for a longtime to travel across the road because of the long line of traffic on both sides of the highway.
Kale said he was wondering whether the country had a government and a department responsible for the highway because it was a national highway but falling apart.
“Do government officers travel this way,” Kale asked.
Markham district project officer Waka Waiang said  provincial Works had dispatched an excavator to the affected area but the machine was moved upstream following the Zumin River to the Yaros Mountains to divert floodwaters.
Waiang said he did not know how long it would take for the road to be restored.

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