Friday, April 20, 2012

Chamber: Lae road project in ‘limbo’

Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed great concern at the way the city’s roads are being constructed, despite more than K100 million being allocated for this purpose.
The six major contractors, despite being paid millions, had done a “half-baked job”, it says.

Lae's new-look concrete roads as pictured along Markham Road…the entire K100 million project is now in limbo.-Picture by MALUM NALU
Chamber president Alan McLay gave this blunt assessment when asked by The National to comment on the state of Lae roads
“The Lae city roads rehabilitation project sits in limbo,” he said.
“For the last 16 months, we have seen six contracting companies complete a large number of the busiest roads in the city, mostly with concrete.
“This is great and has seen the city return to have a steady flow of traffic again, for the first time for years.
“The problem is that these contractors have only completed about 60 % of the jobs that they were contracted to do – 40% remains unfinished, most with gaping holes where the roads have been prepared for concreting but left unfinished as the project has run out of funds.”
McLay said when the new government took last August, it commissioned an investigation into the road project.
He said the investigation came up with many irregularities, including the fact that the finances had been poorly managed, leading to a significant overspending on the project.
“Hence, there is no money to pay contractors for the work they have already done, let alone the work that is required to finish off the contracts,” McLay said.
“The problem as always when dealing with Lae roads, is that the rainy season is now upon us.
“The sections that have been prepared for concreting will deteriorate rapidly, so that when funds are found to finish the road works off, the work will have to start from scratch again.
“In the meantime the free flowing traffic will slow down to a snail’s pace once again as the uncompleted sections break up.”
McLay said the Morobe provincial government continued to believe that the roads project was the answer to the city’s problems.
“The Morobe provincial government - in the mistaken belief that the Lae roads project will fix up all the Lae roads - budgeted insufficiently for the maintenance needs of the ‘other’ Lae roads,” he said.
“Many of these roads have already been under stress after having been used as alternate routes when the concrete roads have been constructed.
“Without maintenance these roads will collapse.”

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