Country’s roads need fixing

Editorial

ROADS will continue to play an important role in service delivery and connecting our country to support economic activities.
Works secretary David Wereh in his department’s key reforms highlighted in the Government policy ‘Connect PNG’ said it was necessary to help address some legacy issues.
The main one being the backlog on road maintenance which would cost up to millions of kinas, which the Government currently does not have.
The Works Department understands that the country is faced with many challenges even economically however it needs government support including that of stakeholders to address issues concerning the road networks.
The country is expanding.
Business is becoming the core policy of government to drive the economy; road accessibility is the number one mode of transportation in the country.
Maintenance backlogs are building up to an unmanageable level.
We need a post disaster reforms in the roads sub sector and it has to be done now.
As far as road condition is concerned, 80 to 90 per cent of the road/highway is already in a bad condition and overdue for rehabilitation because of lack of timely maintenance.
We are in this situation because of the backlog of maintenance in the past years.
What is happening is we are only getting enough to do this section so the maintenance needs on this one is growing and expanding.
It’s the same story every year across the country. You can do very little but because you have to attend to the whole highway you are thinly spreading the limited resource in a reactive manner, responding to emergencies.
With the aging roads, wet weather and disasters, we now have a bigger problem.
Competition on the budget is very limited so every year almost over the last 20 years we see Works getting 20 to 30 per cent of what is required for the upkeep of the whole road network.
So, if you get 30 per cent, the 70 per cent is now deferred backlog which is now haunting us at this time.
Works and Implementation Minister Michael Nali agreed with the department’s sentiments saying more than 70 per cent of roads in the country are in poor or failed conditions and needed K20 billion over 10 years to maintain.
He suggested that reforms were necessary to address the failing state of roads.
Nali shifted the blame to past governments for spreading scarce resources too thinly across the road networks and expecting big results.
Road users including businesses and vehicle owners were spending more than K1 billion a year on vehicles for a longer travelling time.
There are also more road accidents resulting in injuries and deaths because of poor road conditions. At the current rate of maintenance, the Government will require K700 million per year for maintenance alone.
The Government will require K900 million per year to rehabilitate and upgrade sections of the national and provincial roads in failed or poor conditions.
If we feature this on a 10-year programme, the Government will require a minimum of K1.5 billion per year or K15 to K20 billion to sufficiently address the backlog issues and new investments to open important roads.
Unless, realistic funding is allocated to this programme, in the next 10 years, all roads will have closed and failed.
If all roads accessibilities are closed, how do you progress your economic activity?

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