Progress On PNG’s Highlands Highway Upgrade Continues Despite Pandemic And Extreme Weather Challenges-ADB
Progress on PNG’s largest infrastructure investment has continued over the previous six months despite poor weather and ongoing challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.
This was the message from Secretary for Department of Works David Wereh and Project Management Office Director Ila Mari after a review of construction progress on the Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Program in late April. ADB’s Program Team Leader Andrew Cooper,
Senior Engineer Ganiga Ganiga, and Project Engineer Jacob Kata, joined Mr. Mari along the Highlands Highway from Mt Hagen to Nadzab in Lae, inspecting the road and meeting with contractors.
“We have seen some good, close to schedule progress with grading, drainage installation, and rehabilitation works, despite works being hampered by heavier than normal seasonal rains from the La Nina weather system currently over the region,” said Director Mari.
Department of Works Deputy Secretary Steven Pup, who was involved in the review, highlighted the importance of ensuring good drainage.
“The current high rainfall underlines the critical need for effective drainage on all sections of the highway to ensure it remains a sustainable asset for future generations,” said Deputy Secretary Pup.
ADB’s Mr. Cooper and Mr. Ganiga, reaffirmed the message of previous reviews that the highway remains PNG’s most strategic infrastructure asset, encouraged contractors to remain focused on meeting their existing work schedules and to ensure properly sequenced, quality construction.
The Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Program is a joint investment between the Government of PNG and ADB, with grant co-financing from the Government of Australia. The massive project will rehabilitate and reconstruct the 430 kilometers of the Highlands Highway between Nadzab in Lae and Kagamuga in Mount Hagen. A second phase of the project that will repair or replace 71 bridges along the 430km corridor is expected to start later this year.
Following the review mission Secretary Wereh said that the Prime Minister James Marape and Minister for Works Michael Nali continue to place the highest priority on the successful delivery of the project as a centerpiece of the Connect PNG agenda.