Travellers stranded after frustrated locals block bridge

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MORE than 50,000 people in North Waghi, Jimi in Jiwaka and Dei in Western Highlands are stranded after locals dug a drain near the Waghi Bridge connecting Kondopina and Kindeng.
The drain had prevented vehicles from crossing the bridge since Tuesday
Passengers had to walk, some carrying bags of fresh produce for about 5km to Kindeng Market before catching transport to Mt Hagen.
To rectify the situation so the public can travel through again, locals living at Minieng and Minjim near Kindeng want a local contractor engaged to do maintenance work on the ageing bridge.
Gibson Bee, speaking for the locals, said they had vented their frustrations a company contracted by the Government to do maintenance work on the bridge after it collapsed last year.
The company could not be contacted for a comment.
“The company was awarded K6 million to repair the bridge, but after a year of maintenance work carried in only four months, signs already emerged that the bridge was on the verge of collapse,” Bee claimed.
“It cannot withstand the raging Waghi River.
“It is likely to collapse if we experience a downpour.
“This has caused frustration among the locals. K6mil is a lot of money but the work done there does not equate to the amount that was paid.
“We want the company management to redo the bridge work, deliver a decent bridge that can last ages. Otherwise, we will not lift the roadblock.”
Bee said the roadblock was in the best interest of the people in the two provinces because it was their lifeline.
The locals said they had drafted a letter to the division of provincial works in Jiwaka, National Road Authority, the company and the provincial police commanders in Western Highlands and Jiwaka.
Jiwaka police commander Horim Piamia said police were aware of the roadblock and warned locls that there were other avenues to raise their grievance rather than blocking the road.