The big fix

High­lands High­way un­der re­pair

Paradise - - Contents -

Work on the ‘most crit­i­cal’ 90-kilo­me­tre sec­tion of the High­lands High­way will be­gin later this year, un­der an am­bi­tious 10-year re­pair and main­te­nance pro­gram funded by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank.

The Works Depart­ment re­cently ad­ver­tised for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from road build­ing com­pa­nies to gauge in­ter­est in the US$1 bil­lion (PGK3.2 bil­lion) project. The aim is to once and for all make PNG’s main ar­te­rial route, the High­lands High­way, a truly in­ter­na­tional qual­ity high­way.

Works Depart­ment sec­re­tary, David Wereh, says he is ex­cited by the project be­cause it is “work­able and has long-term fund­ing”.

The fund­ing will come from the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank’s pro­posed Sus­tain­able High­lands High­way In­vest­ment Pro­gram, aimed at en­sur­ing that the 430-kilo­me­tres of two-lane high­way from Lae to Mount Ha­gen is re­ha­bil­i­tated, up­graded and ef­fec­tively main­tained.

“Of all the roads we have in the coun­try, the High­lands High­way is the most im­por­tant,” says Wereh.

By the end of this year, we should have a num­ber of key con­tracts go­ing out and con­struc­tion work started.

“It ser­vices three-quar­ters of the pop­u­la­tion. All the ma­jor min­ing and petroleum projects are lo­cated in the re­gion.”

Seven hun­dred kilo­me­tres over­all, the high­way be­gins in Lae, trav­els through the Markham Val­ley, then climbs over the 1500-me­tre-high Kas­sam Pass to the East­ern High­lands cap­i­tal, Goroka.

It then goes over the 2478-me­tre-high Daulo Pass, through Ji­waka Prov­ince to the West­ern High­lands provin­cial cap­i­tal Mount Ha­gen, be­fore split­ting into two.

One branch goes through the South­ern High­lands’ cap­i­tal, Mendi, fin­ish­ing at Tari; the other goes through the Enga provin­cial cap­i­tal, Wabag, be­fore fin­ish­ing at the Porg­era gold mine.

For most of its length, the High­lands High­way is no more than a sin­gle car­riage­way two-lane road, full of pot-holes and prone to land­slides.

Wereh says the plan is to start draw­ing down im­me­di­ately about PGK1 bil­lion for the most crit­i­cal 90-kilo­me­tre sec­tion, which runs from the Daulo Pass in Chimbu, go­ing through to the Ji­waka– Chimbu bor­der.

“By the end of this year, we should have a num­ber of key con­tracts go­ing out and con­struc­tion work started.”

Main­te­nance of the road is a key part of the pack­age, says Wereh.

He says the 10-year plan will see var­i­ous sec­tions of the road be­ing built si­mul­ta­ne­ously, rather than work­ing from one end to the other.

The long and wind­ing road … a stretch of the 700- kilo­me­tre High­lands High­way near Tari.

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