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By Clifford Faiparik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Mar. 7) - A total of PGK40million [US$14.1 million] will be used to maintain the national highways throughout the country this year, Works Minister Gabriel Kapris said yesterday.

"And the first priority will be the maintenance of the Highlands Highway," Mr. Kapris said.

He said this at the Works Department office in Port Moresby when announcing Roy Mumu as the new chief executive officer of the National Roads Authority. Mr. Mumu was formerly the Works deputy secretary for technical division.

Vice Works minister Tony Aimo, Secretary Alphonse Negints and a NRA board member Pae Gure witnessed the occasion.

"We still have the PGK20 million that was allocated to the NRA last year and will start maintenance on the national roads this year. We will also request another PGK20 million from the Treasury Department that was budgeted for NRA this year to add on what it already has," Kapris said.

He said roads were important to improve the livelihood of the 80 percent of the people who live in rural areas.

"When the national highways are managed and maintained to a certain condition, the feeder roads should be improved. Then the rural people can be motivated to develop their land to contribute to the development of the national economy."

Kapris said the NRA was approved by the NEC in July 16, 2004, and its responsibility was to manage and maintain the national highways while the Works Department looked after the provincial roads.

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