By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lorengau
The people of the Manus Tetidu LLG, in the Manus Province, have called on the provincial and national government to fix the Somare Highway.
Their call comes as the highway is being used to transport quarried rock chips from Tetidu to Lorengau town to build the Momote road.
Tetidu LLG President, Mark Mangeu, says the heavy load transported on the road is rapidly deteriorating the neglected highway.
“It needs to be maintained and I am just appealing to the Manus Provincial Government to provide funds to maintain the existing road that will allow the gravel from Polamau Quarry to Lorengau,” says Mangeu.
Over the last ten years, the people’s only economic corridor into Lorengau town has been given little attention.
Though there has been maintenance funded by the World Bank, in the last two years, activity on the Somare Highway has increased. It is a road that was designed and built about thirty years ago.
A quarry has been set up two kilometres from Tetidu Station to supply gravel for the construction phase of projects that are part of the asylum seeker deal.
“The highway (Somare) here has to be improved first, before the Momote to Lorengau Road, because the heavy load is deteriorating the road,” says Mangeu.
The Manus Province has two politicians who represent twelve local level governments in the national parliament.
Much of the blame for the many years of neglect can be leveled on budget allocations coming from the national government.
Manus, being a smaller Island province doesn’t generate revenue sufficient to build and maintain its roads.
But, the company that owns the quarry, that was previously operated by the works department, is in a joint venture with a local land owner company from Manus.
Its understood that the company is willing to supply the gravel for the Somare Highway road maintenance, if the provincial government draws up a contract that allows for this to occur.