Central Bougainville Sited For Road Reconstruction Efforts

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Upgrade necessary to enable construction of hydro-power project

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 1, 2013) – The launching of a K11 million [US$4.8 million] road project in central Bougainville marks the arrival of social and economic development potential for the 10,000 people in the area, Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) chief David Sode says.

Sode said the reconstruction and upgrading of the Wakunai-Togarao Road on the east coast of the island would enable construction of the PNGSDP-funded Togarao hydro scheme to go ahead.

He said the road would also give people in the Togarao area access to markets for their garden produce and to essential services at Wakunai and Arawa and Buka.

Sode said the road would open a new world of opportunities for the people.

"Its main purpose is to allow PNGSDP’s local contractors to start the major development work on the first phase of the Togarao power project," he said.

"We have been able to do some limited work using the existing access track but we need a road capable of heavy equipment haulage to allow the main components of the hydro system to be brought in and installed.

"Once this equipment is installed, electricity will be available to the Rotokas villages in the immediate vicinity, which is a big step forward in terms of potential social and economic development.

"The power project, which is being overseen by Western Power, a PNGSDP subsidiary, will improve the quality of life in the villages, particularly by making electricity available to the local school and clinic.

"A spin-off benefit will be the access it provides for people from the remote Togarao area to Wakunai, and further on via the island highway to Arawa and Buka."

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis thanked PNGSDP and welcomed the start of work on the road.

"The road itself is an important project because it will cut the very high cost of getting to and from Togarao on the existing track, which is in very poor condition," Momis said at the launching.

"Togarao is well known for the fertility of its soil and the quality of its garden produce, and I believe there is good potential to increase local production on the back of quicker and cheaper transport to the market at Wakunai, and further on to Buka and Arawa.

"The road will make it much easier for villagers to get access to essential government and non-government services."

The road is being built by local contractor Jomik Plant Hire Ltd.

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