By PISAI GUMAR
THE geography and topography of the area between Western Highlands and Madang provinces will determine the final route of the transnational highway.
This was agreed to during a three-day civic action meeting at the Lae International Hotel early January, attended by various stakeholders including the Madang and Western Highland governments and the Defence Department.
The civic action committee, which comes under Defence, decided that although the route from Baiyer to Ukini 2, Reva Mountain down to Ruti and across the Jimi River was the shortest, it was also costly.
Defence Force engineer battalion acting commanding officer Major Quadrat Larawin said Ukini route was also prone to landslides, “costing the Government millions in maintenance”.
He was referring to an article in yesterday’s newspaper that said the new route was longer.
Another factor was that the Ukini route was not as populated as the Baiyer valley to Simanga.
“With the large population means the chances of socio-economic activities being increased would be greater and, thus, making the highway more valuable and meaningful.”
Maj Larawin said according to civic action criteria, the PNGDF engineer battalion would construct, deliver or provide vital services that were usable and accessible by the majority and beneficial to the populated areas.
“It is to ensure the services provided sustain, maintain and improve rural socio-economic and spiritual lives of the people.”
PNGDF engineer battalion detachment commander Lt Sarufa Eka and assistant Sgt John Bungewa said they had “carried out every construction procedures and that was the final”.
There are 40 combat engineers now based at Baiyer station carrying out 15.1km maintenance work at Simanga.
Almost 200 people and leaders gathered at Simanga village two weeks ago to give the combat engineers the green light.
In a bold move to allow the construction of the highway, the villagers said that they “will work with no one other than PNGDF engineer battalion”.