By Scott Waide
In three years, the Wabag District has built several roads connecting people in various parts of the district.
Some are short cuts giving people in hard to reach areas access to the main road. But the most important is the road to the Maramuni area on the Enga-East Sepik border.
The Wabag district began building this 60 kilometer road in 2018. It is one of the biggest projects so far connecting the district’s most isolated region.
Sixty kilometers may not seem like a long distance. But the road builders had to cut a pilot track through very difficult terrain with just two pieces of heavy equipment in the initial stages of construction.
The district made the decision to establish a company for the road projects. They bought their own machines and pumped all the available funds into the construction of the road.
“When we were nearing Maramuni, the people – especially the older folk – were quite emotional. For the first time, they are seeing a road reach them in their twilight years,” Wabag MP, Dr. Lino Tom said.
When you fly over the area, you see the difficult terrain the workers have had to work through. The camps are shifting as the work progresses. The fuel is trucked every week from Wabag and there is an ever present threat of disruption by local tribal conflicts.
The Wabag District is following a tight schedule dictated by funding phases of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The district recently secured funding from the ADB to build a new health center at the government station at Maramuni. One of the ADB’s funding requirements is a road connection. If the construction falls behind schedule, Wabag district won’t get that funding.
“Because they fund in phases, we cannot afford to lose out. We have between four and six months before the road reaches the station,” Dr. Lino says.
“If government provides the infrastructure, our people will be able to help themselves.”
The road connection has since reduced the cost of goods and services in Maramuni. Costs are expected to drop further when economic activity picks up and more vehicles start travelling along the road.