By Vasinatta Yama – EMTV News, Mt Hagen
Roads and infrastructure are a priority area of development in Hela Province, as well as law and order.
The Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) developer, ExxonMobil PNG under a Tax Credit scheme arrangement, has partnered with the Department of Works to reseal a 27 kilometre road in Hela Province.
The 27 kilometre road section from Halimbu to Komo has seen some sections already sealed, with permanent repairs of roads and bridges damaged during the 7. 5 magnitude earthquake in Hela Province in February last year.
ExxonMobil funded K150 million to the Department of Works, who has spent the last 20 months rehabilitating and upgrading the main sections of the Highway from Halimbu, Komo and Hides.
Works Secretary, David Wereh told EMTV News that this is part the National Government’s priority program to see in the next six years, the resealing and upgrading of the entire highway from Mendi in Southern Highlands Province, to Koroba in Hela Province.
Two sub-contractors involved in the two different sections of the Highway are Hides Gas Development Corporation and Curtain Brothers.
Hela is one of the difficult provinces in PNG for development to occur due to its geography as well as its own social problems.
Despite the delays and interruptions from natural disaster, tribal fights and landowner issues, road works is said to be completed by June and July this year.
The upgrading and resealing of Hela roads are a milestone project and achievement of the developer, Exxon Mobil, Works Department, the contractors and the locals.
While, Hela Province can be seen as a volatile area for services to take place, an umbrella company set up by 13 communities in the LNG project areas, Hides Gas Development Corporation is leading in the role of community awareness’s for Hela people to accept changes to occur.
HGDC Community Affairs Manager, Poge Gewane says there has been a continuous dialogue with the locals, and with the recent resealing of the road sections, more people are accessing vital services.
Mr Gewane said people are beginning to accept changes, but the presence of the PNG Defence force soldiers has fast track road works to be completed.