The FINANCIAL -- The Government of Papua New Guinea, the World Bank and the Australian Government have jointly launched a USD$29 million (PGK89 million) project to fund the upgrade of the East Cape Road. Work will include upgrades to 51 kilometers of the road benefiting an estimated 200,000 people.
The East Cape road runs between the provincial capital Alotau, and the most easterly point of Papua New Guinea’s mainland. Access to vital services such as health clinics, schools and markets will be greatly improved once the upgrade is completed, according to the World Bank.
The first sod was officially turned on the project by local member for Alotau and Minister for National Planning & Monitoring, the Hon. Charles Abel.
“Papua New Guinea’s development depends very much on well performing road networks. Better roads are the only way to access health, education, delivery of government services and creating market opportunities for our local produce and population,” said Minister Abel.
Joining Minister Abel to turn the first sod were Minister Counsellor Benedict David, representing the Australian High Commission and Ms. Stefanie Stallmeister, Country Manager for the World Bank.
“Australia invests in transport infrastructure because it is fundamental to economic growth and service delivery. I am very pleased to see this joint World Bank - Australian funded project proceeding in support of the Government of Papua New Guinea’s priorities,” Mr. David said.
The World Bank’s Stefanie Stallmeister said the turning of the first sod represented much more than simply the start of a construction project.
“Today’s ceremony is the culmination of many years of work and collaboration between the Governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the World Bank,” Ms. Stallmeister said.
“Yet the start of construction also represents the start of a positive new era for the people of Milne Bay. It means that soon a daily journey to school, or to the health clinic for a check-up will no longer be an often-insurmountable journey; it will be one where if a child is sick, their parents will be able to swiftly get them to the doctor.”
The East Cape Road provides a vital link for the populations of the archipelago of islands to the east and north, which make up three out of the four districts in Milne Bay Province. People of these islands regularly travel by sea to and from East Cape Point and the north coast, and then two hours by road to Alotau for access to the main produce market, shops, and services.
Like many remote parts of Papua New Guinea, access to basic services, schools and hospitals remains a daily struggle for communities along the East Cape. Supply and maintenance of roads in the country is a significant challenge due to the rugged, mountainous landscape, widely dispersed populations, and unconnected road networks. Extreme weather conditions including tropical cyclones, heavy rain and flooding, are common and can cause damage to roads and bridges.
The road works will rehabilitate the East Cape Road and include sealing the full length of the road and improvements to six existing bridges, shoulders in the road and drainage systems. This work will ensure the road can better withstand the impacts of extreme weather events.
The rehabilitation of the East Cape road is part of the World Bank’s Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project II restoring key national roads across Papua New Guinea. The works are funded through a World Bank USD$126.5 million (PGK338 million) credit with additional co-financing from the Australian Government.