New Zealand Defence Force personnel are working alongside the PNGDF to construct a 350 kilometre road network that will link remote villages of the Highlands.
The PNGDF-funded project will enable more than a 100 rural communities to have access to an alternative highway route, connecting them to Mt Hagen, Madang and Lae.
The 20-strong NZDF group are training PNGDF engineers, offering skills capacity building in safety procedures, basic maintenance, and road construction techniques; providing their PNG counterparts with expert technical assistance and mentoring.
The highway will run over the Bismarck Mountain Range, through dense forests that were once impassable by vehicles.
Lieutenant Leroy Judge, Senior National Officer of the NZDF contingent says that locals have been very generous to their visitors gifting them with fresh fruit and vegetables in appreciation of their presence and work in the area.
“Every time we go to town to get supplies, the villagers, particularly the children, run out to greet us. The term ‘Kiwis’ is a common expression around here now and they recognise our vehicles.”