By PATRICK TALU
SOGERI Plateu’s Koiari people will no longer need to walk 17km to the nearby PMV stop for Port Moresby after the upgrade of Owers’ Corner Road.
An Australian-PNG government funding of K4.6 million was made available last September to immediately start work on the upgrade, including airstrips and bridges.
The road improvement project is part of the PNG and Australian governments’ K250 million Kokoda safety package (KSP) committed under an agreement signed in 2008.
The KSP was implemented in recognition of the Kokoda Track for its special place in Australia’s history, as well as the rich natural heritage and environmental values of the areas.
Kokoda Track Authority chairman James Enega expressed gratitude to the Australian government through prime minster Kevin Rudd’s special envoy on Kokoda Sandy Hollway.
“It is significant as the packages that will have an impact on the people along the track. The communities here will no longer walk long distances anymore, given the improved road conditions.
“They can now transport their crops for sale in Port Moresby without any hassle.
“On behalf of the people and the KTA board, I sincerely commend the government of Australian through AusAID, the National Government and Central provincial government for recognising the significance of the track,” Mr Enega said.
Also present to welcome Mr Hollway was Kairuku-Hiri MP Paru Aihi.
Mr Aihi said it was a huge relief for his electorate as his district services improvement programme fund was insufficient to cover the vast areas.
“Such assistance will greatly complement the limited fund that I have for services improvement programmes in my electorate,” he said.
Mr Aihi also committed K100,000 to KSP to supplement the project.