by Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Kerema locals say most feeder roads from the Trans National Highway into their villages in inland Gulf have not seen road upgrades for at least two decades.
Rex Karava, a former villager councillor, while thankful for the government’s move to seal parts of the highway, said the road network has deteriorated, and challenged Gulf leaders to upgrade feeder roads.
Former village councillor Rex Karava, says despite the road sealing, inland Gulf villagers will continue to walk for hours before reaching the main highway to access transportation services into Port Moresby or Kerema town because PMVs no longer use the feeder roads.
Mr Karava said, many educational institutions and aid posts are located further away from the national highway and the road sealing is of befefits to the communities next to the highway.
“Bulk of the people live inland, about 80 to 90 per cent. The government should look into upgrading the feeder roads too,” said Kavara.
The road sealing has commenced on the 67km road from Malalaua to Kerema town. It comes as a relief for villagers living along the road side. But for inland Gulf villagers, their concern is the feeder roads from the National Highway.
The Malalaua to Kerema Road sealing is seen as a major infrastructure development in the Gulf province after 7 years of the province having bad road conditions.
But what is worrying the locals more, is the lack of assistance provided by Kerema District Administration to upgrade and maintain the feeder roads within the district.
It is understood the 67 kilometre road sealing was funded by the Asian Development bank and the National Government at a cost of K70 million. This means the Gulf leaders had no financial input into the infrastructure development.
Previously, villagers travelled on boats to access government services or to bring their produce to sell in Port Moresby or Kerema.
But, with the sealing due for completion in March 2016, locals believe it will minimise the number of lives lost at sea.