PORT MORESBY, June 9, 2011—Today the World Bank and the Government of Papua New Guinea signed a US$43 million agreement to provide a safe and reliable road network across 10 of the country’s provinces. The financing will support the rehabilitation and maintenance of national roads and bridges, providing thousands of people with improved access to healthcare, education and markets.
Laura Bailey, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinea Minister for Treasury and Finance, Hon. Peter O’Neill signed the financing agreement for the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project II, which will build on the results of a previous project due to close in December 2011.
Just 35 percent of Papua New Guinea's national roads are considered to be in good condition. Thousands of kilometres of the network have not been maintained in years, rendering some critical sections impassable – particularly during the rainy season. Unreliable roads not only limit access to hospitals and schools, but are also exceedingly dangerous and costly. People are forced to attempt unsafe sea crossings, or use air transport to move goods around the country.
Under the project, local communities and businesses will experience a substantial improvement in their long-term livelihoods by being better connected to a regional road network. The focus will be specifically on roads which link areas of key economic activity, and are expected to produce enhanced opportunities for development and growth both at the regional and the national levels.
“Both the World Bank and the Government of Papua New Guinea understand the importance of this much-needed infrastructure to the country’s people,” said Laura Bailey, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea. “This project is a sign of our ongoing commitment to the people of Papua New Guinea, offering a lifeline to those most disconnected from opportunity. Improved access to services and markets will have a particularly important impact on women as they week to improve their lives and the lives of their families.”
"Roads give vital access for our people, and present them with the chance to utilise the public services the Government provides, enhancing their involvement in economic growth,” said Minister for Treasury and Finance, Hon. Peter O’Neil. “People across the country need to be involved meaningfully in Papua New Guinea’s development, and good infrastructure supplies men and women with this possibility."
The project will rehabilitate roads and bridges in East and West New Britain, Manus, Oro, Morobe, Gulf, Central, Madang, Milne Bay and Western provinces, beginning with upgrading segments of the Hiritano Highway which connects the country’s capital, Port Moresby, with the capital of the Gulf region, Kerema. It follows the first Roads Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project which started in 2002.
Financing for the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project II is being provided through an International Development Association credit, with the Government of Papua New Guinea contributing an additional US$10 million. The five year initiative will be implemented by Papua New Guinea’s Department of Works.