BY GORETHY KENNETH
Mr O’Neill also announced a minimum of K898 million annually will be required over the next five years to upkeep the national road network on long-term performance-based contracts.
This will also include an additional K87 million for the next five years to restore works, plant and transport division units in each district around the country.
The reforms will promote greater efficiency and accountability in delivering roads and other rural infrastructure services across the country to be implemented over the next five years from 2019 to 2023.
“We need and we will build a truly national highway network that will connect major centres on every large island of our nation.
“I want to see it possible to drive from Vanimo to Alotau, and while this is a lot of work, we will make it happen.
“We have a clear road transport agenda to increase road connectivity and provide greater access to functional roads around the country.
“For decades roads have deteriorated in large part because road subsector governance structure was lackluster, and funding mechanisms were not well organised.
“A minimum of K898 million each year will be required over the next five years, to upkeep the national road network on long-term performance-based contracts.
“This is in addition to a minimum of K87 million per year for the next five years to restore works, plant and transport division units in each district around the country.
“The government’s annual budget is not sufficient to support all of our road maintenance needs.
“Roads are the backbone of the nation, and particularly in remote and rural areas, good roads are essential for us to increase living standards,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our government has delivered what we can within this structure, now we must take the next step and reform the system.
“This will enable our government to provide a more targeted focus on connecting our rural and resource production regions with our cities.
“This includes connecting the Momase Highway from Vanimo to Madang into Gulf via Wau/Bulolo, the Southern Highlands-Gulf-Central-Port Moresby-Milne Bay Highway. This road is already underway, and the Madang to Baiyer road will ultimately link all main highways to Port Moresby.
“These are vital inter-regional links that will be delivered to prepare our country for the growing population and the related socio-economic needs in the near future.”
Mr O’Neill said enhancing the existing road network to be safer, reliable and efficient further requires regular scheduled maintenance programs.
“Our government’s vision is to roll-out sustainable long-term road maintenance programs in line with our ‘zero pothole policy’ for performance-based maintenance contracts.
“These key roads include the Highlands highway, Hiritano highway, Magi highway, Northern/Kokoda highway, Enga highway, Wau/Bulolo highway, Ramu highway, Sepik highway, Boluminski highway, New Britain highway and Kokopau-Buin highway,” he said.