By MALUM NALU
THE road connecting Gulf to Southern Highlands and Hela will be ready for use next year, according to Works and Implementation Minister Michael Nali.
In addition, he said the development of a new port at Kikori in Gulf should ease the burden on the Highlands Highway and Lae Port.
Nali said the road would be opened to traffic in 2018 and would be gradually upgraded to a national highway standard.
“Along with the development of the planned sea port at Kikori, this road will support the oil and gas development in these provinces,” he said.
“It will also provide an alternative export route for other commodities in the Highlands Region, mitigating the current risks associated with our sole reliance on the Highlands Highway, and relieving the bottleneck at Lae port.”
Nali said other Government priority projects were the New Britain Highway linking East and West New Britain, Alimbo-Kelabo-Kopiago Road in Hela, the K3 billion Asian Development Bank-funded Highway maintenance and Stage Two of the Lae-Nadzab Highway.
A study will also be done to determine the feasibility of rail transport in PNG.
Secretary David Wereh told The National that the road from Gulf to Hela had only 38km left to be completed between Erave and Samberigi in Southern Highlands. It should be completed by the end of the year.
“Oil Search is funding this under the tax credit scheme arrangement,” he said.
“This is a K100 million investment and we’re halfway through now with just 38km to complete.”
Wereh said once Southern Highlands and Gulf were linked, the department would look at extending the highway from Kikori to Kerema and on to Port Moresby.
By MALUM NALU