Sunday, February 14, 2010
Locals blame poor engineering for washed away highway crossing
By PIUS MON
PREPARATION work on the multibillion kina LNG project in the Southern Highlands has been temporary halted after a culvert has been washed away at Tabuga in the Nebilyer district along the highway leading to Southern Highlands province last week.
And the local leaders are blaming it on the ‘poor engineering’ work done by the Western Highlands Provincial Works department after the bridge was first washed away by heavy flooding late last month.
Landowner and young local leader Mr. John Kanamba said after the first flooding late last month by the same river the old culverts were exposed.
He alleged that when the provincial works department visited the area, they did not remove the old culvert but instead back filled the exposed old culvert with gravel and let vehicles pass through until the second time the culvert was completely washed away leaving a gap of more than ten meters.
Mr. Kanamba added that if only the works department had removed the old culvert and replaced it with a big new one nothing would have happened.
“I blame the works department for their poor engineering, this second disaster would not have happened...this is a manmade disaster now and the works department is answerable for that,” he said.
He added that not only the commuters are affected but the operations of the multimillion kina LNG project and operations of Southern Highlands province, adding that it was going into its second week while works department is slowing the progress of construction of new culvert.
Mr. Kanamba also challenged the provincial works department to speed up the work and or if possible give the contract to a construction company if they do not have the equipment and manpower to speed up the work.
A visit by this reporter to the affected area revealed that most vehicles are stopping on either sides of the road while people crossed over to catch onward transport at either side of the washed away crossing.
Mr. Kanamba said there has been no harassing of the general public by the locals, adding that young men are helping to transport heavy cargoes and only charging less than one kina for a bag.
Police presence in the area is also contained any possible harassment by the locals while commuters are transiting to vehicles without fear or intimidation by the locals.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Works Manager, Mr. John Puri has brushed aside the allegation of poor engineering by the Works Department. He said instead that he was waiting for a reply from Port Moresby for one of the reports that he has submitted for reconstruction of the washed away culverts at the affected areas.
“Partly they are right...I was still waiting for the report from Port Moresby and it took about three weeks since the temporary work and then the second disaster struck,” he said.
Lack of equipment by the Provincial Works Department was another factor that also delayed the progress of the work. Equipment had to be hired from Southern Highlands province to continue the work.
“We have no equipment so we had to hire from Loma construction and Asi Holdings and all this is being done on commitment bases with arrangement by the top management,” he said.
Mr. Puri highlighted that if only they had the equipment and the local people had cooperated they would have fix the road within days, adding that the unnecessary delay has affected Southern Highlands for more than a week.
The road has since been reopened but for one way traffic but only. More work needs to be done, Mr more work needs to be done on the road, Mr Puri said.