State secures US$1bil to repair, maintain Highlands Highway

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THE Government has secured the K3.19 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank to upgrade and maintain the Highlands Highway.
Works and Implementation Secretary David Wereh, pictured, said the US$1 billion loan was for the repair and maintenance of the highway over a 10-year period (2017-2027).
A Government team made up of officers from the State Solicitor, Finance, Treasury, National Planning and Works had met Asian Development Bank officers from May 5 to 8 to finalise the loan.
This is the first time that the Government is able to align loan financing for a priority road.
He said it will “make money pay itself back,  that will maximise returns and benefits on the investments we are making on the highway, and provide long-term solutions to issues we are currently facing”.
The secretary said the loan was obtained on a concessional rate, with a payback period of 25 years, at less than two per cent interest.
The first tranche of US$361.5 million (K1.15 billion) is now available for drawdown.
It will be used for the road sections in Chimbu, Markham Valley in Morobe and Eastern Highlands
“We believe that this is a right step in the right direction,” Wereh said.
“We cannot manage and maintain our roads on a piecemeal and ad hoc basis.
“We need to have a long-term programme, with identified and guaranteed funding source.”