The Asian Development Bank
(ADB) is providing a loan facility that will help Papua New Guinea to rebuild its Highlands Highway. The loan is worth US$1 billion, with the repayment period expected to stretch over several decades. Construction is commencing on the first phase of the highway rebuild project, with this work costing $300 million. The need for the road upgrade is acute. Papua New Guinea’s main centre for trade and industry is its capital, Port Moresby. However the Highland region of the country is the centre for the country’s key crops of tea, coffee and cocoa, as well as featuring a number of mining operations. There are also gas deposits in the Highlands region while the area is where around 40% of the country’s population live.
The current Highland Highway is in poor condition, with numerous potholes, as well as dangerous stretches with steep gradients and sharp curves along its 700km length. Improving road access to the area would allow greater economic development in the Highlands, as well as boosting the country’s GDP as a whole.
Further plans for road development works are also being drawn up in Papua New Guinea. The Highlands Region Road Improvement Investment Programme (HRRIIP) is working on a programme of works that will see 2,500km of the most important routes, including the Highlands Highway, that will be improved. And the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AusAID are also planning to assist with the road development programme in the Highlands area of the country.