Nation’s roads in dire need of maintenance

Editorial

THE Government’s slogan of “Take back PNG” can make an impact if the current road system is improved.
Not only are national roads in the country in dire need of major rehabilitation, city and town roads have been neglected over years.
The network has suffered from inconsistent and inadequate funding over the years.
Those who are tasked with their responsibility on most occasions are not given sufficient funding which contribute to roads deteriorating over time.
Roads are the backbone of a nation, and particularly in remote and rural areas, good roads are essential to increase living standards.
For now, we can not say that for Papua New Guinea.
Someone will always have a story to share on roads – families bringing their produce to the market, school children, bringing in health supplies and one that really tells the hardship is of the sick being carried hours for help.
Last month in Western, an eight-year-old was bitten by a death adder.
His mother carried him on her back for about an hour or more and was helped by students along the 3-plus hour journey to get to Mogulu clinic.
There was no anti-venom at the centre at that time. All medical supplies for the clinic only through air. By God’s grace, he survived.
Another patient was also carried to the clinic after delivering twins early in a village which is a couple of hours walk away from the clinic.
Such tales will not be any different to other areas.
The previous government boosted of sweeping changes to the management and delivery of the country’s road network last year.
The road network plan is classified into national, provincial and district roads: national roads link provincial capitals main population centres while provincial and district roads provide secondary and tertiary links to national highways.
It is common knowledge that building a road through the mountains and jungles of PNG is a most daunting task and one that not only requires engineering expertise and guaranteed funding but the political will to drive the project.
Yesterday’s newspaper carried concerns from truckers for immediate action to fix parts of the Highlands Highway that are deteriorating to protect and
enable transport of goods and people.
The Highlands Highway, sometimes known as the Okuk Highway, is the main land highway in the country that connects several major cities and is vital for the movement of people and goods between the populous Highlands and the coast.
The highway that runs from Lae to Tari is the key link for Highland communities moving produce to Lae, the nation’s largest seaport.
The Highlands consists of seven landlocked provinces where approximately 40 per cent of the country’s population resides, most of whom are involved in rural smallholder agricultural production.
The region is gifted with agricultural and mineral resources which serve as an engine of growth for the country’s economy.
Characterised by relative high levels of the national agricultural production of fresh produce and cash crops, mainly coffee, tea, and cocoa, the region contributes a third of gross domestic product; while the region’s mineral and petroleum resources account for nearly 80 per cent of national exports.
We are reassured that with Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Programme jointly funded by the Government and the Asian Development Bank, this should give some relief to the users.
The challenge is to deliver transformational road projects that will virtually change the face of rural PNG.

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