The National- Thursday, February 10, 2011
By JUNIOR UKAHA
THE Works Department has revealed that work on national road programmes directed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Works Sam Abal is yet to start.
Works secretary Joel Luma and Southern region works manager David Werre made this remark citing funding as the primary cause of delay.
“We submitted our plans and cash flow to National Planning and Treasury three weeks ago and are still waiting for them to release funds so that we move on to the next phase of the work,” Luma said.
He said the targets and expectations set out by Abal were noted by the department and they were working around the clock to get the various projects started.
Luma said the government has given Works K370 million this year which he said was insufficient to thoroughly maintain all priority roads in the country.
He said currently, the country had 5,500km of gravel roads nationwide and in order to seal all these roads in the next 10 years, it will cost the department and the government around K11 billion, something which he believed the government could not afford at the moment.
“The idea is to take a phased approach so that each year we cover about 500km of road at the cost of around K1 billion.
“People must understand that road construction is not a one-off thing and will take time to ensure all the 9,000km of national roads are thoroughly resealed and upgraded.”
According to Luma, the department had identified 290km of national roads this year to be sealed, including sections of the Highlands Highway, Ramu-Madang Highway, Buluminsky Highway and Sepik Highway among others.
He said according to the department’s cash flow, K92.5 million would be released quarterly by Treasury for road works and another K15 million would also be released quarterly for maintenance works this year.
The department also said once funds were released, normal procurement process would be followed to enlist contractors to engage in national road works under the supervision of technical officers from works and stakeholder partners like Asian Development Bank, World Bank and AusAID.
Meanwhile, Luma said the department should not be criticised unnecessarily for road developments as it was doing its best with limited resources to ensure people had access to better road networks.