Road works ahead

An al­ter­na­tive to the High­lands High­way?

Paradise - - Contents -

Cur­rently, the only way of bring­ing bulk agri­cul­tural pro­duce out of Pa­pua New Guinea’s fer­tile High­lands is down the High­lands High­way to the port city of Lae. A new study has iden­ti­fied a faster sec­ond route through Gulf Prov­ince.

The study, sup­ported by the gov­ern­ments of Aus­tralia and New Zealand un­der the In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion (IFC) PNG Part­ner­ship, found that set­ting up road and ferry con­nec­tiv­ity in Gulf Prov­ince would sharply re­duce travel times.

For ex­am­ple, pro­duce from the High­lands to con­sumers in Port Moresby could be there in two days rather than 10.

“One of the big­gest chal­lenges in PNG is trans­porta­tion, it’s slow, un­safe and ex­pen­sive,” says the IFC’s Chris­tian Re­ichel.

“The High­lands pro­duces beau­ti­ful fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, but bring­ing them down to Port Moresby quickly re­quires a plane, which is very ex­pen­sive. Ship­ping via Lae can in­cur de­lays, which of­ten af­fects the qual­ity of the pro­duce.”

Re­ichel says the IFC ini­tially spoke to oil and gas com­pa­nies To­tal, Oil Search and Exxon­Mo­bil to un­der­stand what was be­ing done with the barges and ser­vice roads through the Gulf Prov­ince, where they op­er­ate.

Gulf Prov­ince is the host prov­ince for the PNG’s sec­ond gas project, Pa­pua LNG.

“We saw an op­por­tu­nity and got a con­sult­ing team on board. Our study iden­ti­fied that it would be fea­si­ble to run a com­mer­cial ferry ser­vice from Port Moresby to Kikori, then run re­fresher con­tain­ers from Kikori up to the High­lands by road to Mendi and be­yond.

“This route could re­duce trans­port costs by up to 50 per cent and travel time by up to 80 per cent.

We also an­a­lysed the trans­port cost re­duc­tion on the route and it is very favourable,” Re­ichel says.

“The gov­ern­ment has asked the World Bank, IFC and the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB) to co­op­er­ate on de­liv­er­ing the project,” he says.

“The ADB is in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing the wharf needed to move goods, and the gov­ern­ment has asked the World Bank to look at the road. What is clear is that strong part­ner­ships will be key to de­liv­er­ing this project for the peo­ple of PNG.”

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