PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 1, 2009) – Fifteen people are dead.

And their deaths will have a profound impact on their loved ones for their lives were cut short suddenly. Many of their friends are fighting for their lives at the Port Moresby General Hospital’s intesive care unit.

Those killed or injuried were from one of the nastiest road accident, ever seen on the Hiritano Highway in the Central Province on Saturday. The collusion between the two PMVs, we are told, happened because one of the drivers was trying to avoid the potholes on the Highway and had gone over to the wrong lane. In the words of Police commander in Kerema, Inspector Ruben Giusu, there are "crater-like potholes starting from Bereina to Malalaua and at the corner where the accident occurred is worse" and "this road although built in 1997 does not even look like it is more than 10 years old". Inspector Giusu told us that he had informed the Works Department about the danger on this section of the highway but apparently no action was taken.

Potholes are appearing, not only on the Hiritano Highway but on all our roads in Papua New Guinea. The unpredictable weather pattern, the geology and lack of good maintenance are having a telling impact on our roads. People all over the country are dying on these roads. PMV operators are suffering high cost for mechanical repairs. Trucking firms are paying dearly for crime as well as high cost of operation. How long will it take before this country sees its roads getting the much deserved attention from the government? Surely it cannot be a question about money. There is a lot of money around. Combined with what we have, AusAID, the Asian Development Bank and other international agencies are putting money into our roads. So why are our roads not getting fixed.

The Works Department should get its act together and start doing some serious work on our roads. Our roads must be free of potholes. There must be proper drainage so that the water from the frequent rains is controlled to keep the roads dry.

Our people do not need to suffer like the ones who are now mourning the loss of their loved ones from the Hiritano Highway disaster. Deaths from natural causes or old age is accepted. No one accepts deaths where lives of their loved ones are cut short in situations like traffic accidents. This horrific accident must send a strong message to the government that our roads are falling to pieces.

And they are becoming dangerous.

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