Concerns over Kokopo to Rabaul road raised

National, Normal

A MEMBER of the East New Britain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is concerned that the deteriorating state of the Kokopo-Rabaul road is being overlooked by AusAID.
Nick Lyons said ENB was a province where donor agencies such as AusAID could make their aid money work, given the high level of understanding and team spirit between the public and private sector, which was unequaled in other parts of the country.
Speaking during a dinner with the ENB Chamber of Commerce and the Australian High Commissioner in Kokopo on Monday night, Mr Lyons said he heard about Australian aid moving from budgetary aid to programmes and projects.
He said in ENB, the flagship project should have been the Kokopo-Rabaul road.
Mr Lyons said this road cost tens of millions of Australian tax payers’ dollars and has been ticked off as a very substantial aid project.
But the reality was that it was a shocker, the design was flawed and the road has given provincial and national authorities a maintenance burden because they were quite incapable of shouldering it and financially do not have the capacity to carry it out.
Mr Lyons said it was about five to six years ago that the Kokopo-Rabaul road was opened but it started deteriorating within four years.
He said the design of the drainage was inadequate and claimed somebody in the AusAID organisation had signed off on that.
Mr Lyons said the aid machine has to be accountable because the road was a shocker to ENB province.
He said it was supposed to be from the country’s third largest port to the country’s fastest developing town.
“You talk about the economic benefits and they are turning tide for the province because we cannot get any crops to the port, we cannot bring any imports from the port to Kokopo town, which is the new provincial centre,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian High Commissioner Moraitis in response said the National Government has 16 priority roads based on econometrical importance that AusAID was funding with the Highlands Highway ranked number one.
He said a perfect road could not be built in situations such as PNG and he would go back and discuss with the commission on the issue.