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Costly highway repairs ineffective

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier) - Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare bluntly stated in Parliament yesterday that he would call in international contractors to fix the Highlands Highway.

Sir Michael said the Government had already spent PGK600 million [US$219 million] in rehabilitating and maintaining the road but there was still no improvement.

"There is a problem here and the problem is the contractors engaged to fix the road," Sir Michael lashed out. "I’m looking at the possibility of bringing in international contractors to fix our roads. I want to bring in international contractors who will fix the highway properly and even redirect it."

The Prime Minister noted that the work local contractors were doing on the road was showing no improvement and was quickly deteriorating.

Sir Michael said this when asked by Enga Governor Peter Ipatas during question time why the responsible government ministers were having a media war concerning the funds for the Highlands Highway rehabilitation and the current state of the Highway.

Sir Michael also lashed out at people living along the highway for submitting unnecessary compensation claims.

"These people are planting coconut or sugar cane very close to the highway and demanding millions of kina when these things are removed by road contractors in the process of fixing the road," Sir Michael said. "How do they expect the Government to pay them these millions and at the same time fix the road which they need?" Sir Michael asked.

The Grand Chief urged individual leaders to educate their people on the importance of the road services.

He asked individual leaders to explain to their people not to make unnecessary compensation claims which were only contributing to the delay and deteriorating state of the highways.

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