By ANDREW ALPHONSE
EARLY works on the multi-billion-kina PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is running behind schedule, the delay caused in part by the deteriorating state of the Highlands Highway.
An official with Esso Highlands (PNG) Ltd, the subsidiary of ExxonMobil, said equipment and machines for early works for Australian company Glough Curtain Joint Venture (CCJV) were still sitting idle at the wharf in Lae waiting for affected sections of the highway to be repaired and freed up before the equipment and machines could be transported to the project site.
One of the worst affected parts is at Kalguwi village, near Kagul River, on the border of Western Highlands and Southern Highlands provinces.
Yesterday, a policeman attached with the Kaupena-based police highway patrol unit 17 reported that more than 100 trucks and cars were stranded at either side of the highway at Kalguwi.
He said that section of the highway had fallen into a state of complete disrepair and while light four-wheel-drive vehicles were being pushed and pulled to negotiate the landslip and the huge crater-like potholes up the slopes, heavy vehicles were unable to cross.
Police highway patrol units have been working around the clock to control traffic and ensure locals do not take advantage of the situation to harass commuters.
Imbonggu community leader Pius Alopea said the National Government should immediately look into repairing this section of the highway as it was becoming a national disgrace.
Mr Alopea said many vehicles had developed mechanical problems on this section of the road while the flow of goods and services into Southern Highlands had been greatly affected.
Mr Alopea said with the current wet season in the region, the road condition would only worsen unless the authorities do something.