By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lae
Within ten years, Lae’s roads could have been compared to any other roads around the country.
It was an eye sore and caused problems for Lae residents and businesses, costs of maintaining vehicles were expensive.
To fix the problem, the government began spending K100 milion on the roads, beginning in 2011.
Successive contractors were given the task of fixing and upgrading a vital infrastructure that would aid growth in a City that generates K65 million of the country’s revenue.
But, that estimate doesn’t include the variations that contractors receive.
In 2011, a committee headed by Chief Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenoc, was tasked to investigate the Lae Roads Rehabilitation project.
The investigations found serious flaws to how contractors were being awarded and how payments were made.
By 2012, there were unfinished roads left in the middle of Lae’s top town. Sections half way through construction were left behind by contractors who asked for variations amounting to millions of Kina.
These were just some of the challenges faced through the five years.
Today, bus drivers say the cost of maintaining their buses have decreased after main roads were improved. Lae now has the tag “Cement City” an upgrade from the “Pothole City” tag.
“We have been able to run on the road without frequent tyre and shock absorber changes, that were costly in the past,” says bus driver, Bob Rargip.
Nearly all of the main roads within the city boundaries have been completed, but work is still being done on roads outside the city’s outskirts.
Over the last five years, the roads in Lae drew attention from political heads, including Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, who visited Lae on many occasions to check on the road maintenance.