MEMBER for Lae Bart Philemon yesterday broke out of usual tradition to officially hand over K3 million worth of heavy equipment aimed at addressing maintenance of deteriorating Lae roads.
“Let me state from the onset: Lae roads are the responsibility of the National Government and the Morobe provincial government. In terms of statutory responsibility, there are only two tiers of Government responsible for roads in Papua New Guinea.
“And no single K50 million commitment such as that made by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare as an election promise in 2007 nor the band-aid K3 million annually budgeted by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge is going to permanently and sustainably fix the roads.”
In 1999, aiming to sustainably address the Lae roads problem, Mr Philemon commissioned a study by Torricelli Consultancy Ltd. Their report recommended that a minimum of K16 million budgetary allocations per annum was required for maintenance of Lae roads including drainage, street lights, bus stop shelters and grass-cutting.
“Since that report was presented to the Morobe provincial government in 1999, that minimum funding allocation has never been fulfilled. All the provincial government has done is throw away between K2 million and K3 million which basically does nothing. And the cost now is much higher than it was 10 years ago.”
Mr Philemon said the attitude to Lae roads by the Morobe provincial government and the National Government was a sign of the times and characteristic of the Somare Government regime shown also by PNG Power in the second largest city in PNG.
Speaking as deputy leader of Opposition, Mr Philemon said: “Naturally, the alternative Government policy would be to address infrastructure and utilities problems holistically, systematically and sustainably rather than current piecemeal approach – that is the trademark of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his Government.”
Mr Philemon said that given the urgency and controversy of the Lae roads, the joint district planning and budget priorities committee (JD P&BPC) with the Lae district administration headed by administrator Buds Botike, and assisted by district treasurer Dominic Manua, has decided to purchase the following heavy equipment.
“Given the demise of provincial works who were the frontline Government agency in road maintenance some 10 years ago, my JDP&BPC and the district administration felt that heavy equipment would be a better investment for long-term sustainable roads maintenance than mere outsourcing,” Mr Philemon said.