By JUNIOR UKAHA
THE national government and the World Bank have signed a US$43 million agreement to fund the rehabilitation of selected national and provincial roads in the country, The National reports.
The agreement was signed on Thursday in Port Moresby by World Bank country manager Laura Baily and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill.
It followed a previous agreement signed by both parties in 2002, which lapsed in 2009.
Papua New Guinea would provide US$10 million as counterpart funding.
The five-year project, ending in 2016, will be coordinated by the Department of Works under its second phase of road maintenance and rehabilitation project (RMRP II).
Baily said the signing was a “financial and legal document” that would see the PNG government and the World Bank work hand-in-hand to ensure important infrastructure services were delivered to the people.
Ten provinces will be covered under the programme – Central, Gulf, Western, East and West New Britain, Manus, Oro, Morobe, Madang and Milne Bay.
“In many parts of PNG, roads are more than just tarmacs,” Baily said.
“It is not just an investment in roads but an investment in the future and people of PNG,” she said.
Baily said the project was a sign of the ongoing commitment the World Bank had for the people of PNG.
O’Neill said infrastructure development was a key component of the government’s development strategies.
He said, in line with the MTDS, the government had since 2009 increased its funding allocations to rehabilitate roads and bridges.
“Roads give vital access for our people, and present them with the chance to utilise the public services the government provides, therefore, enhancing their involvement in economic growth,” he said.
Work will start on the Hiritano Highway in Central and the Kerema-Malalaua Highway in Gulf.