The National, Monday 08th April, 2013
By PHILIP KEPSON
THE Highlands Highway will get top priority in funding from the national government, Works Minister Francis Awesa says.
Speaking to more than 3000 people in Wabag, Enga, last Friday during the Wabag town roads upgrading and sealing project ground-breaking ceremony, Awesa said past governments had neglected the highway despite being the country’s “lifeline”.
He said the two provinces that were most affected were Enga and Southern Highlands despite being custodians of Porgera Gold Mine and Kutubu oil respectively.
“Therefore, the current government is committed to improving the Highlands Highway in coming up with major maintenance and expansion programmes,” he said.
Awesa said the Laiagam-Porgera and Kandep-Mendi roads, which were currently under construction at the cost of more than K500,000, were expected to be completed early next year.
He added that the government also successful in arranging K20 million from the Porgera tax credit scheme to complete Wabag-Tomba portion of the highway that was currently undergoing a major resealing programme.
Awesa said the specific portions of the highway and new road projects under the Highlands Highway improvement programme included Togoba-Mendi, Togoba-Waghi Bridge, Poroma-Tari, Waghi-Asaroka and Goroka-Kainantu road networks.
He said other new highway projects in PNG included the Mt Hagen-Madang, Buluminski, Hiritano, Magi, Kokopo-Pomio, Aseki-Kaintiba-Kerema and the Gulf highways.
He added that with earnings from the PNG LNG project, it would cost the government more than K6 billion to ensure that those road networks became a reality.
“The money is not a problem. What we treat critically as a problem is the road network in the country that successive governments have failed to realise. The current government is hell-bent on addressing this problem,” Awesa said.
The minister spent the weekend in Enga with Governor Peter Ipatas and Works acting secretary David Wereh visiting road construction sites in Laiagam, Kandep, Wapenamanda and