PM O’NEILL SPEECH ON INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS DURING THE CIMC FORUM
Part of the Speech by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during the CIMC Forum
“We have invested quite heavily on infrastructure. I know many people said that why is the national government investing too much in Moresby Lae, Hagen and Kokopo.
When you look at these 3 or 4 cities, every day almost half of our population go to work and do business in these 4 cities. Half of the entire 8 million people go in and out every day although they may not literally leave there. They deserve to have this infrastructure because of population, so when we make decisions about where we should build roads where we should divert government funding, it makes economic sense to develop areas where a large number of people travel to access services. That is why we are starting to build infrastructures around these cities because they serve these large population areas. It is pointless for me to build a four-lane highway in my district in lalibu-Pangia because we have less than 120,000 people there and it makes no economic sense.
Unlike governments in the past who build big roads into some areas and then it is underutilised. We are trying to focus on where population growths are happening throughout the country and also where business activities is increasing so that we can receive maximum value out of such infrastructure development. So you look at the roads we are building today, not so long ago some of you may have travelled to Kerema, which would take also most 12 hours. Today I am pleased to tell you that the last 10 kilometres of road leading to kerema town from Malalawa has been completed and I can assure you can drive to Kerema today under four hours.
Those are some examples of what the national government is doing. We are resealing Kerema town and throughout the country. Today you can drive all the way from Kavieng onto Namatanai because the Buluminsky highway is completely seal. We are now starting to seal roads from Arawa down to Buin, Kokopau on the top of Buka all the way down to Arawa. Thank you to JICA, we have been able to build all the bridges we are now starting to seal these roads as well. So you can drive all around Bougainville in a few years’ time on sealed roads.
We are now connecting East and West Britain. We starting to work on the bridge programme, so we can be able to provide better accessibility. We are almost connecting Kandrian and Kimbe for the first time for people to carry their cargo from Kandrian all the way to Kokopo as well. These are things that we are opening up all over the country. We are almost there. You can drive from Lae all the way to Kikori now we almost 10 to 12 km away from connecting that road.
So we are linking up all the missing links throughout the country as well and connecting them to the highways so our people can have greater accessibility to services and a better quality of life. We are building ports everywhere in the country under a very good jetty program for many of the coastal villages throughout PNG.
On airports, many of you might know we are starting to build with ADB through the loan we receive from them where we are able to roll the cadet program which is really upgrading our airports throughout many of our provincial towns where we can provide better standards of facilities including the runway and security aspect of it and offcourse the terminals and the facilities that we are building. I want just to re-emphasis that infrastructure is still lacking in many parts of the country, but we are starting at the right direction.
What we are insisting on is quality. Sometimes you see my remarks in the papers of some contractors and it is not because I am against those contractors but I demand quality. I do not want to go back 6 months later and fix the same road that we spent millions of kina on. That is why we are encouraging the Works Department and National Roads Authority that we implement what we call ‘Zero Port Hole’ policy. We have already started rolling that out in some of the district throughout the country meaning that when you fix the road properly and build to world standard, you must be able to maintain the road for many years so we do not experience the road to collapse and nobody cares about it. It has become a norm where after we build roads, everybody walks away and as a result we have a neglected infrastructure that costs us even more money to fix. We are trying to do the simple things by managing them well at the national level so we can get maximum value out of them.” – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill