By Scott Waide – EM TV, Lae
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has announced that the National Executive Council will declare a state of emergency covering critical road sections along the Highlands Highway.
The state of emergency will include a call out of PNGDF personnel as well and an increase in police patrols so that contractors are not interfered with.
The Prime Minister travelled from the Southern Highlands to Lae yesterday and was disappointed that the work expected had not been done.
A state of emergency for road sections is arguably the most decisive in decades for a region plagued with compensation demands and disruptions.
The road section between the Western Highlands and Simbu provinces has been one that has drawn a lot of attention because of compensation demands.
On many occasions travelers have been inconvenienced by roadblocks and demands for payments. The Prime minister said a state of emergency and callout of police and military was necessary to ensure the road construction is completed without interference.
While road infrastructure development have taken off in many parts of the country, the 2013-2014 period has also been one of challenges. In Morobe, the Kumalo River continues to cause havoc for travelers.
In early 2013, a landslide on the border of the Eastern highlands and Simbu, buried 4 people and caused traffic disruptions for a week costing millions of kina to clear. But the associated compensation claims cost millions more.
The specifics of the state of emergency have not yet been revealed. But what is known is that more military personnel will be placed at key locations. Members of the PNGDF Engineering battalion may also be called in to supervise the road works.
There will also be an increase in police patrols along the Simbu – Western Highlands sections and the Southern Highlands – Western Highlands sections.