By MALUM NALU
Lae road projects funded by AusAid from 1998-2002 are still surviving while 20km of roads funded by the Papua New Guinea government for K140 million from 2008-2012 have already fallen apart.
This startling contrast was pointed out by former Lae MP and respected statesman, Bart Philemon, who also questioned why Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc was still sitting on a damning report commissioned by the government on the Lae roads in 2011.
An engineer involved with the AusAid project, which built roads from the industrial area near the wharf to Malahang, said things would never have gotten out of hand if the PNG government had simply worked like the Australians.
|Busu Road - built by the Australians in 1998-2002, is still hardy as ever.Picture by MALUM NALU|
"Lae City roads are a very complex issue," he said.
"It's complex because we made it complicated.
"It was so simple and AusAID showed us before that it can be done when all the factors are taken into consideration right from the beginning before we embark on the actual construction works.
"In short, there isn't a comprehensive plan that captures everything we want to do and yet things are being done and money is being spent.
"It's like someone wakes up one morning and says, 'ah, I know, we'll build Milford Haven Road using concrete'."
Meantime, K100 million allocated in the 2013 budget for Lae roads has not been spent and another K100 million has been allocated for 2014 in the national budget handed down last Tuesday.
"Compare that to the AusAid-funded A$43 million, which then was equivalent to about K120 million," Philemon said.
"They built 29km of first-class roads, bus stops and street lights as well, for K120 million.
"AusAid, Australian taxpayers' money, went through proper processes.
"Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) was the engineering contractor.
"They designed and supervised all the roads under one well-established contractor, Barclay.
"There are local contractors now but they wouldn't have a clue.
"I don't know who's in charge of the roads in Lae now.
"It's causing great inconvenience to the people of Lae.
"You don't see a reflection of that money there.
"There are no street lights, no bus stops, very badly built roads.
Philemon said the government should be implementing the recommendations of the 2011 report.
"The investigation was done, a comprehensive report was done," he said.
"Reports are one thing but acting on reports is another thing, when you put it away and just forget about it.
"I ask Sir Manasupe to dig it up, he was chairman, and do something about it."