Bulolo Highway in bad state


ON behalf of industry associations, I am writing regarding concerns over the deplorable state of the Bulolo Highway that provides critical link to big businesses that keep Papua New Guinea moving forward. The road users of Bulolo Highway from 9-Mile turn off to Warabung (Huon Gulf) to Mumeng, Buang, Bulolo and Wau, Biaru (Bulolo) and Watut to Menyamya and Aseki (Menyamya), and Marawaka (Eastern Highlands) and Kaintiba (Gulf), especially the coffee growers and buyers and the small businesses operating in the area are concerned about the state of the highway and its poor maintenance. In 2017, Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour, former Menyamya MP the late Thomas Pelika and Bulolo Sam Basil raised concerns over the deteriorating state of the highway.
After that, the Works minister and a technical team went to see the highway, promising full maintenance.
There are many road users from Morobe, Gulf and Eastern Highlands accessing government services, including health and education such as Wau Small Mining School, Bulolo Technical School, Bulolo Forestry College, various health centres and businesses such as Mainland Holdings, Zenag Chicken, Vitis, PNG Forest Products, NKW Holdings, Niuminco mine, Hidden Valley mine and Wafi-Golpu mine and other retailing, alluvial and small mining and exploration companies.
Various concerns raised with the Works Department by the Lae and the Bulolo Chamber of Commerce, PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum and Farmers and Settlers Association have resulted in the Australian government’s intervention for remedial maintenance of K11 and K18 million in 2019 and last year.
The Australian government committed K66 million for full maintenance of Bulolo Highway from Markham Bridge to Wau under the transport sector support programme that was launched by Prime Minister James Marape in June in Bulolo.
We understand that bids and tender for the maintenance contract were completed.
Further, in June, Zed Seselja, the Australian minister for international development, launched the feasibility study and construction of the missing link of the highway running from Menyamya to Kaintiba to Murua-Epo to the Haiveta Highway in Kerema.
We commend the prime minister for injecting additional K50 million and request that this money should be given to the Works Department to undertake urgent maintenance work before the successful bidder starts on the Australian-funded component.
With the rain season starting this month to February, we ask for the K50 million to be put into sand filling and gabion baskets at the river banks at Mare, Samsam and Pine Top, culvert cleaning and drainage control and full gravelling of Gurakor to Zenag Station section and urgent patrol grading from Watut border to Menyamya.
The people of the five districts in Morobe, Gulf and Eastern Highlands are asking and looking for at least a fully-graded road, not a sealed road.
But to date, the road condition has not improved.
We urge the prime minister and Works Minister Michael Nali to execute the contract for the Bulolo Highway – major economic impact road and to fast-track the feasibility and construction of the Trans Island Highway as it is a critical road to open the hinterlands and the forgotten people in these remote communities.
This road provides access for alluvial and small scale mining and the Hidden Valley and Wafi-Golpu mines; timber, prefabricated buildings, eggs, chicken, coffee, cocoa and vegetables that generate a lot of tax and employment and income earning opportunities for the country.
Despite the Australian government’s funding, the Government should prioritise critical transport, communication and electricity that will serve many people.
Focus on delivering economic returns to the communities and the country.
There are many businesses that operate along the Bulolo Highway and repair and maintenance to critical infrastructure is necessary to minimise disruptions to business.

Wilson Thompson, ML
Farmers and Settlers Association