Office of chief secretary to handle HHRP
THE Department of Works has lost all powers and responsibilities relating to the controversial Highlands Highway Rehabilitation Programme (HHRP), The National reports.
In a clear message that the government had lost confidence in the department, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare directed that all powers and responsibilities relating to HHRP be transferred to the office of the chief secretary.
While the move was welcomed by Chimbu claimants and their consultants, who had gathered in
yesterday, it could have political ramifications as Works and Transport come under Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye. Port Moresby
A senior official said the Works Department had been isolated from a major project in the country.
“It demonstrates a lack of faith in Polye and Works secretary Joel Luma in dealing with the HHRP. That is a major project in the country,” the official said, asking not to be named.
The official said he understood the department would not be involved in work on the
Highlands Highway and the Lae roads, which would cost about K100 million in this year’s supplementary budget.
The prime minister issued a directive to chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc on Oct 14 to approve consultants to partner with the Highlands Highway Landowners Association Incorporated (HHLAI) group and the state to do a final verification and assemble the landowners for proper payment in early December. The claims, amounting to K68.7 million, would also be audited.
No reason was given for the stripping of powers from Works but, according to Skytech Consultant Ltd officer Joe Kile, this was done because the department was too slow, unorganised and lacked the capacity to carry out the verification exercises quickly and professionally since 2008.
Neither Polye nor Luma could be reached for comments.