The National, Friday July 19th, 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
THE highway from Mendi in Southern Highlands to Hela needs urgent maintenance, Hela provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia says.
He said the section of the national highway at Tindom Hill, Nipa-Kutubu district, Margarima and Tengo in the Komo-Margarima district in Hela, had formed huge craters that heavily loaded semi-trailers could not negotiate.
Onopia said locals living next to the deteriorated section of the road were taking advantage of the situation and charging huge amounts of money to enable vehicles to pass through.
“I call on the national government and the concerned authorities to immediately repair the road as it has caused so many problems to the travelling public and vehicle owners,” he said.
Onopia said locals were charging passing vehicles K100-K200 and those who could not meet the demands were forced to stay there or turn back.
“The lives of the travelling public and vehicle owners were at risk and the equipment for the multi-billion LNG project in Hela always arrives late, affecting daily operations,” he said.
Onopia said semi-trailers and other vehicles were often stranded, posing a risk and goods had been reported missing.
Terence Mimago, a semi-trailer driver with Kutubu Transport trucking company, said many drivers were constantly facing backaches from negotiating the deteriorated section of the Highlands Highway.
“We argue with locals living along the roads and have to agree to whatever decision the locals make because that is the only road we will travel back and forth on,” he said.