Collapsed bridge cuts Highlands Highway

National, Normal


A BRIDGE in Henganofi, Eastern Highlands province, collapsed last Thursday under the weight of a heavy truck carrying an excavator.
The truck was taking the heavy equipment out of Lufa, and was crossing the bridge to head to Lae when it collapsed on Thursday morning.
The bridge was only erected in January this year, after the previous one collapsed in the same place.
There has been no movement of traffic up and down the highway since then.
Works authorities, police and TSC contractor, which own the excavator, are working around the clock to get the situation addressed, but it could take days.
No by-pass has been created as an alternative route for vehicles.
Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Chief Supt Augustine Wampe said they needed to haul the machine and truck, and the collapsed bridge, out of the creek.
He said TSC was transporting the excavator out from Lufa district where it was engaged in road work and was heading to Lae when it plunged into the Narazate Creek.
All movements of wholesale cargo, equipment, materials, betelnut bags and passengers from Lae sea port, Lae city and Madang bound for Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Western Highlands, Enga and Southern Highlands, stopped yesterday.
Those most affected are heavy equipment and materials bound for resource projects especially the PNG LNG project site in Tari, the Southern Highlands oil fields and the giant Porgera gold mine in Enga province.
Coffee green beans bound for overseas markets and vegetables products from the Highlandsbound for coastal town markets were left stranded.
Locals believe it would take about a week before the bridge is restored.
Kafetina local level government president Elijah Kemeya said if the Government did not do anything about the bridge, the five Highlands provinces would suffer with store goods and the mining companies in both Southern Highlands and Enga provinces would be severely affected.
“The old amco collapsed early this year as it was very old and it was replaced by a temporary bailey bridge,” Mr Kameya said.
Commuters cross the creek with their luggage to both sides of the bridge to continue their journey.
Youths in the area also demanded commuters for trespassing and charging K2 for individuals and K5 for bags including coconut, betelnut, kaukau and potatoes on both sides of the bridge.