Asian Development Bank To Provide $1 Billion Loan For Upgrade Of PNG's Highland Highway

680 mile long road is main economic artery in country

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 30, 2017) – A massive K3.5 billion [US$1 billion] loan was yesterday approved to fund major upgrading and rehabilitation of PNG’s main economic road, the 1100km Okuk Highlands Highway.

Major development partner Asian Development Bank (ADB) gave its formal endorsement for the funding which has brought a sigh of relief for the troubled main arterial link which serves PNG’s largest resource projects.

The Government through ADB will reconstruct, rehabilitate and upgrade the aging Highlands Highway infrastructure to world-class standards that is climate resilient. The K3 billion loan will be paid off in 10 years and the project will be done in three phases.

Yesterday the steering committee of the sustainable Highlands Highway program led by Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, which included Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele, Finance Secretary Ken Ngangan, Works boss David Wereh and Transport boss Roy Mumu, met with ADB country representative Marcelo Minc and his team at Sir Manasupe Haus to formalise the arrangements.

This followed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s initial announcement to officially open the two-day 2017 final leadership summit meeting held at Stanley Hotel.

"The funding arrangement is a US$1billion (K3.5 billion) loan from ADB and it will fully fund the aging Highlands Highway under a 10-year long-term multi-financing arrangement program in which the Department of Works is the implementing agency," Mr Lupari said.

"It will require a lot of planning, a lot of mobilisation, talking to people, a look at collective issues, all these things, but it takes time and I say again, it will be design, upgrading and maintenance, a long-term solution, once and for all we will fix the Highlands Highway.

"It’s going to be a one-shop approach. We will do upgrading, rehabilitation and maintenance. It’s a one-shop because many of the roads we built are only being constructed and we forget about upgrading and maintenance," Mr Lupari said.

"The Highlands Highway is a very difficult road built a long time ago. It was built to contain certain transport and we’ve not been able to rebuild the highway," he said.

He said that after successive governments failed efforts to adequately address the decline in the road condition of the Highlands Highway, this government under the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s administration has successfully advanced the process of rehabilitating the 1000km of deteriorating Highlands Highway from Lae-Hela Province.

"So many times we have been passing the buck and shifting the blame from one government to another and during the process we have created instability, which has got us nowhere in our development aspiration to serve the basic needs of our people and improve their livelihood," he said.

He said that only political stability is key to achieve our development aspiration and boost investor confidence in doing business in serving the people of this country.

Mr Lupari said that under the current O’Neill Government for the last five years there was political stability. As far as government business is concerned, this government was able to deliver its Tuition Free Fee Policy, Free Health Care Policy and Infrastructure Development Policy to our people in this country short political history, he said.

He said that for the first time in the history of this country the policy of the current government was fully implemented in the last five years with the disbursement of PSIP, DSIP, LLGSIP and Ward SIP that has empowered different levels of government and transformed this country in an unprecedented manner. that has never been seen before.

PNG Post-Courier
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