By LEO WAFIWA
IF you ask a grower in rural Papua New Guinea to wish for one miracle, it would be to wake up one morning and find that all roads have been fixed.
Roads are of enormous value to people. It is impossible to imagine life without them.
Rural roads in all parts of the country including coffee growing provinces have deteriorated and become impassable making it difficult for 80 per cent of between three and four million growers who are concentrated in the countryside to transport their coffee to the market.
Unfortunately the Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP) is unable to respond to the wish of all rural farmers.
The project funding for road infrastructure and market access component will rehabilitate only nine impassable roads totalling over 50km in main coffee growing provinces namely Eastern Highlands (2), Jiwaka (5) and Western Highlands (2).
The total cost for nine roads is estimated at K21.81 million.
The first road under construction is the 5km Nombia-Bibiori stretch in the remote Obura-Wanenara District of Eastern Highlands. There is more than 15km of inaccessible road in front of this link which CIC-PPAP in partnership with Obura-Wanenara District Development Authority funded to rehabilitate for easier access by the contractor to the Nombia site.
The access road once completed will service over 20,000 people including coffee growers of Tairora LLG and Lamari LLG. The area is known for producing very high quality organic coffee.
The contractor for this first milestone road under the coffee industry rehabilitation programme is Kassampy Construction Ltd.
The CIC-PPAP engineer Eric Aba has reported good progress despite continuous rain.
“The area experiences 12mm of rain (average) every month and progress was a bit slow but we expect completion of all work before end of this year,” says Aba.
The contractor is currently widening some narrow sections; cutting down steep sections, constructing line drains, placing, spreading and compacting road base materials.
Work has also commenced on a 5.1km Kapalku-Ngumbkora access road and 4km Sigiri-Girabw stretch, both in North Waghi District of Jiwaka. The contractor for these roads is Lorma Construction Ltd.
“As of June the contractor has started with clearing and grubbing, preparing stockpile at River Hal for carting to the project sites for sheeting. A PRO (public relations officer) has been engaged to liaise with the communities.
“They’re now working on road sheeting and line drains.”
The Kapalku-Ngumbkora link once completed will serve 5,000-plus people of eight villages between Kapalku and Ngumbkora. However, there is another 4km that needs to be rehabilitated also to actually reach Numbkora village. The North Waghi DDA as well as the Jiwaka Provincial Administration have been approached to fund this so all the villages in the area as Napalm, Engendered, Malang and Ngumbkora will access this road.
CIC-PPAP coffee expert Steven Tevo who works with growers in the area says the rural population, mostly women carry their sick children and walk for hours to the nearest accessible road and also to sell their coffee and other garden produce.
The other four roads which include a 12.89km Yasubi-TakaiPurosa feeder road in the Okapa District of EHP, and a 4.5km Avi Market-Kamdika vllage feeder road in the Anglimp-South Waghi District of Jiwaka, are going through the procurement process.
Senior procurement officer for CIC-PPAP Theresa Witi explained that the applications for respective roads are identified through Component 2 (Private-public partnership) of the PPAP project and follows an exhaustive screening process enforcing the World Bank’s stringent procurement and tendering guidelines in alignment with the Central Supply and Tenders Board’s public procurement process.
CIC-PPAP manager Potaisa Hombunaka is pleased with the effort so far under Component 3.
The coffee manager adds the PPAP modality is the new way forward to deliver extension services in the country. It comes with the package which includes roads and infrastructure services to meet the changing agriculture practices.
“Extension service the old fashion way had its relevance but not so much now.
“There is no use telling growers how to grow and look after their cash crops when there is no road and market access facilities to sell their produce.
“A serviceable road with reliable market access facilities will complete the value chain in the agriculture sector,” says Hombunaka.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Richard Maru has invited PPAP to identify and submit a list of coffee economic roads for inclusion in the 2018-2022 third Medium Term Development (MTD) Plan.
Six impassable roads totalling 202km have been identified and they are: a 74km North Waghi/Jimi border-Koinambe station road (Jiwaka); 18km Keu-Elimbari-Siane-Keu ring road (Chuave, Chimbu); 10km Yulip- Maramb and 20km Yulip-Nenembus road (Kompiam, Enga); 30km Maupini-Wala road (Pangia, SHP); and a 50km Lufa station-Unavi via Gouno road (Lufa, EHP).
These roads will connect the hinterlands of some provinces like the 50km Lufa station to Unavi via Gouno road. This link will service 50,000-plus growers in the Crater Mountain, a tri-border area, where the Eastern Highlands, Chimbu and Gulf provinces meet. The Crater Mountain area is accessible only by light single engine Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Adventist Aviation Services (AAS) planes from the township of Goroka.
Minister Maru in a later meeting also invited CIC to do the same.
The coffee regulating body has identified 12 impassable roads: one each in Gulf, Oro, Eastern Highlands, Simbu and Jiwaka; three in Madang and four in Morobe.
Three of these roads will connect the hinterland of some provinces like the 110kms Salt Nomane-Karimui-Mt Au road in Chimbu connecting Mt Au in Jiwaka. This link can become an economic corridor road to service an estimated 59,000 coffee households or growers and will open up many other business opportunities as well.
These roads will help not only to open up market access for coffee farmers but also the general rural population.
Chairman of Coffee Industry Corporation board Patrick Komba and chairman of Industry Coordination Committee overseeing PPAP Coffee Ian Mopafi have both applauded Minister Maru for the foresight in separate media statements.
“Many growers have neglected their coffee gardens and attend to them only where there are social or cultural obligations.
“This is the same story all over PNG,” said Mopafi.
Komba adds that building a good and reliable road network system will service rural economic corridors.
The importance of roads to connect the vast rural areas of the country to form a national market and economy cannot be overstated.
Connectivity provided by roads is perhaps the single most important determinant of wellbeing and the quality of life of people living in an area.
The coffee rehabilitation project is a PNG Government (Department of Agriculture and Livestock) initiative supported by World Bank and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) through loan financing. It is implemented by the Coffee Industry Corporation through a Project Management Unit known as PPAP-Coffee Component.
- Leo Wafiwa is information communication officer with the Coffee Industry Corporation.