The National, Wednesday March 12th, 2014
By JUNIOR UKAHA
THE Public Transport Division (PTD) under Works was given a new lease of life with a fleet of new machines worth K38 million.
The 48 new machines were presented by the Japanese government to replace an aging fleet.
Japanese Ambassador to PNG Hiroharu Iwasaki presented the keys to the road construction machines to Works Minister Francis Awesa in Lae yesterday.
Works Secretary David Wereh, Transport secretary Roy Mumu, Japanese funding agency JICA chief representative Shigeru Sugiyama and Japanese Embassy first secretary Yoshiki Takahama were among those at the presentation.
The machines included rollers, dump trucks, excavators, front-end loaders, water tankers, mounted mobile workshops and graders will add to about 190 aging machines owned by the Works Department.
Awesa said the machines were a “breath of life” to the aging PTD.
“This is an important and historical occasion,” he said.
“The PTD was disbanded 14 years ago and cobwebs have covered its workshops.
“We made a very big mistake over the last 14 years.”
Awesa said the function of the PTD was given to private contractors because of inadequate funding and poor policy decisions by successive governments.
He said the machines would be used to build and maintain roads mainly in rural areas.
He said the machines came at a time when the O’Neill-government was in the process of putting a policy to reorganise and re-fleet the aging PTD.
“Roads are important for the economic and social development of the people,” Awesa said.
“The government is trying to get the balance right between urban and rural roads.”
Iwasaki said the machines were a gift from the heart by the people of Japan to the people of Papua New Guinea after the aid given to tsunami and earthquake victims in northern Japan in 2012.
Iwasaki said roads and bridges were symbols of peace and the Japanese government would continue to assist PNG in the future.
“This project is expected to facilitate a more stable transport system in the targeted provinces with good maintenance service of transportation routes,” Iwasaki said.
A memorial plaque for the occasion was also jointly unveiled by Awesa and Iwasaki at the Works National Rebuild Centre, Malaita Street.