HEAVY RAIN STALLS TRUCKS ON PNG HIGHLANDS HIGHWAY

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Trucks blocking slippery road

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 12, 2009) – The Highlands Highway was cut off again on Friday afternoon’s- this time by heavy trucks near Mata in the Chimbu Province.

Continuous rain in the region has caused the uphill portion of the highway from Tamba creek towards Mata several kilometres east of Gera to become slippery, throwing heavy trucks in all directions.

The trucks blocked the highway off from normal traffic on both sides of the highway.

Attempts by contractors working along the eastern part of Chimbu’s section of the highway since Wednesday were thrown into disarray as the wet weather continued.

Provincial police commander Joseph Tondop yesterday said two police units were on standby monitoring the situation.

"Obviously, it’s very serious and the highway might be cleared again by Monday (today). I told the works manager and they might get things done by then," Supt Tondop said.

He said the only possible and sensible thing to do was to clear the surface again and put in new gravel.

Supt Tondop appealed for the local landowners to respect the travelling public and not to cause any inconveniences like looting and robbing.

"If any individual tries to take advantage of the situation and cause any inconveniences, they’ll be dealt with by our boys on the ground," he said.

In every hiccup along the highway, landowners have turned it into a money business by claiming for every centimetre of land used for rerouting and charging extravagant fees on cargo and travellers passing through any blockage.

With the wet weather getting worser, the chances of more hiccups along the highway are high, especially with Chimbu’s unstable soil foundation.

The frequent highway cut-offs have put everybody in the affected provinces on their toes and it has become a normal thing for a sudden increase in the prices of all essential goods.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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