The National, Friday 17th May 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE Works Department has a K1 billion backlog of deferred road maintenance costs accumulated over the years, according to Works and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa.
He revealed the figure when he was updating Parliament on the status of key infrastructure programmes to be implemented for roading, a responsibility entrusted by the government through the 2013 budget to deliver important road projects of national importance.
Awesa said there were about 8,738km of national road network in the country, with 4,256km classified as priority roads. The remaining 4,482km were classified non-priority.
Awesa said the national, provincial and districts road networks were estimated to be well over 300,000km.
However, he said due to the recurring low funding levels for maintenance experienced over the years and inappropriate use of those limited funds, the department was not able to carry out timely and necessary maintenance work while the road structure was still intact.
As a result, he said, the department had a backlog of K1 billion worth of deferred maintenance costs accumulated and a poor and deteriorating state of roading network in the country.
Awesa said the O’Neill-led government recognised the maintenance backlog issue as a hindrance to economic growth and prosperity.
To address it, the government has allocated K1 billion in the 2013 budget.
They minister said in aligning with the government’s focus and budgetary commitment to improve roads, his department had focused on several main medium-term (2013-16) targets by:
l Upgrading up to four roads of national interest – the Gulf-SHP highway, Morobe-Gulf road, East and Western New Britain link and Baiyer-Madang highway;
- Upgrading and sealing 1,000km of urban, national and provincial roads over a four-year period;
- Maintaining 4,000km of national roads in good condition through performance-based multi-year contracts;
- Revitalisating the plant and transport division for delivery; and
- Establishing an infrastructure development authority before the end of this year.