EU-STREIT rehabilitates rural roads to improve market access for 7000 farmers in Papua New Guinea

by PNG Business News - August 05, 2022

 

Progressing on improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including sustainable, climate-proof transport infrastructure development in Papua New Guinea, the EU Funded UN Joint STREIT PNG Programme started with rehabilitation and specific maintenance of two farm-to-market access roads in the Sepik Region.

Led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), these two roads will support farming communities involved in cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries production to access further markets with more rewarding prices, and open up rural communities for agribusiness opportunities.

Two ground-breaking ceremonies were held to mark the start of work on two roads in East Sepik Province. The first ceremony was on 22 July for a 7.8 km Banak-Wautogik Road along the west coast of Wewak District that later followed with the start of a 12.8 km Balif-Araseli Road in the Ambunti-Drekikier District on 28 July.

These roads are part of 15 farm-to-market access roads totalling 264 km planned for rehabilitation and specific maintenance under the EU-STREIT Programme in rural Sepik, Papua New Guinea. 

Straight after the unveiling of the project information board and ribbon cutting for the Banak-Wautogik road, local firm Hiawani Ltd who has been awarded the contract started with grading and clearing of the initial roads section. This road connects two Local Level Governments (LLGs), namely Boikin LLG and Dagua LLG, and will serve over 2000 rural farmers of six villages of Banak, Bogumatai, Kwangen, Walanduom, Wautogik and Kotai (inland).

It was a long-awaited moment for the villagers, particularly women who live at the backend of the road. “This is a happy moment for us. We get up very early in the morning, carry out loads and walk for more than four hours to the main highway to catch a PMV [Public Motor Vehicle] to town. We also carry our sick children and walk this road because vehicles cannot go in. Some mothers deliver their babies on the road,” said Joan Wapiake who reflected on the struggle’s mothers in the area face.

Former Ward Member of Walanduom and village elder Mr David Mangani added: “The provincial authorities said to come and fix our road, but it didn’t happen. Thank you, ILO and STREIT Programme and financiers, the European Union.” 

Many farmers neglected their farming practices because the road was inaccessible for vehicles to receive services and transport their produce to market. On this note, Walanduom Ward Member Mr Tom Talis challenged his farmers to “use it to improve our cocoa, vanilla and fisheries activities to support our living.”

Speaking on behalf of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, Mr Muhammad Atif Nasim, the International Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, said: “I have a request for you, because this is your road, you have to take care of it. It is not just another road; it is the key to your future. It will help you to change in 5 to 10 years’ time.”

The road will raise embankment, subgrade with compact gravelling, 27 permanent crossing structures, including two reinforced concrete box culverts and one reinforced concrete causeway, and side drains with traffic signs and signages for year-round serviceable.

To encourage equal participation, a stakeholders meeting was also organised with the communities for better common understanding of the project and intervention. Also present and was very appreciative of this intervention was the Executive Manager of East Sepik Provincial Division of Works and Technical Services and Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr James Baloiloi. “On behalf of the Governor and Provincial Administrator, I want to say thank you to the EU-STREIT PNG Programme and ILO as the implementer to recognise this road which will benefit many inland communities.”

The second project, the Balif-Araseli Road will provide access to market for more than 5000 farmers of 9 villages, 4 Wards and 1 LLG in Ambunti-Drekikier District. Midway Pacific Ltd is the contractor for this road rehabilitation and specific maintenance project that will also serve existing public facilities in the area like schools, aid posts and health centres as well as opening up agribusiness opportunities for the rural communities.

This 12-months project will also create decent job opportunities for the rural communities. 

Chief Technical Advisor of ILO EU-STREIT PNG, Mr Shailendra Kumar Jha, in his speech during the Balif-Araseli Road ground-breaking ceremony, assured the villagers that there will be ongoing monitoring by ILO engineers to ensure delivery of quality road on time. He also urged the community to take ownership and support road rehabilitation and specific maintenance projects.

Under the road transport infrastructure component of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, the road rehabilitation/specific maintenance project will support market access for rural farming communities to boost agriculture production and agribusiness activities pertaining to the three targeted value chains of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries for an improved income and cash flow for the rural sector.

The EU-STREIT PNG, is implemented as a UN joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners). It is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. The Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains while strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.

 

Article courtesy of EU Streit 



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