Posts Categorized: Roads

Tabago trade adversely affected by road condition

By Benjamin Heribeths

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The people of Tabago are feeling the effects of poor road conditions, which is effecting their ability to trade goods.

The main road in Buin is in a bad condition with potholes developing, which have been compared to lagoons.

For the Tabago people there are no vehicles to transport their goods to the market. Currently there is only one open back land cruiser that is willing to transport the people to Buin town to do their shopping and other things.

The Sunday market in Tabago was also discontinued earlier in the year ensure observance of the Sabbath.

Justin Kenkua is the person who is owning only the vehicle in Tabago area especially Ligo. He spends most of his time transporting passengers with his vehicle.

Justin works in the Buin district office and so his only free time is on Saturdays.

There have been many accidents recently so he decided to be strict with traffic rules and safety.

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The power of nature on display as Loluai River blocks travellers

By Benjamin Heribeths

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The Loluai River, the biggest river in Buin, blocked the road for travellers all the way from Buin and Siwai, due to a heavy downpour.

The heavy rain also swept a small home with couple of houses in Wakunai. The road, which is so treacherous in Wakunai and Buin, delays the arrival of traveller at their destinations.

Passengers from nearby villages in the Kieta frontier were worried about what had happened and the current of the river was so strong that it swept away all the gravel until nothing was left but big stones that no vehicles can pass through.

Highway drivers spent time clearing a new route to avoid the blockade, but not before some passengers travelling to the airport missed their flight due to the natural blockade.

After one day the road was cleared and now vehicles returned to travel the route between Buin and Siwai.

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One regular driver stated that the nearby villages must take extra precautions due to the fact that accidents can happened while they are asleep late at night.

“If the rain doesn’t stop we will have more trouble,” he said.

Drivers and the passengers were also worried that this treacherous road can lead to heavy car breakdowns, which are expensive to repair.

Changes to weather patterns and the climate is causing the inconveniences throughout Bougainville.

“We may raise concerns but it is beyond our limit to control the nature that comes in its own ways,” said one passenger.

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Port-Mine road endangered by artisanal miners

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Panguna District police head Peter Tauna has warned gold miners that their activities are putting the road and people in danger (pictured in uniform) during an unplanned visit to the alluvial mining slope along the western side of the Panguna mine’s port-mine-access road on Monday, 2 August 2016.

“This is a public road that serves us in the Panguna District and most of south Bougainville,” Mr Tauna told a group digging for gold some 10 metres from the road.

“It provides us the access to Arawa and Buka where we receive much needed services.

“You must be aware that this road came into existence with BCL,” Tauna continued,” our government has no financial capacity to create such a road for us.”

“We are people with common sense so we have to be responsible.

“Mine the locations of the slopes that you see will not contribute in harming this public road.”

The gathered artisanal miners, most of whom came from the Bana District of South Bougainville, said that they were aware of the dangers thus they have already marked a spot where the activities will be restricted to.

Since the alluvial gold was discovered on the slopes between the former Panguna Mine’s Camp 10 site and the Shoofly Corner section of the Port-Mine Access Road in 2010, artisanal miners from all over Panguna and Kieta Districts had rushed here to make a living.

There are also miners working here who come from Bana and even some from across other Bougainville’s sister islands on the Solomon archipelago.

According to the miners a number of people have also accidentally died here. The first was a man from Wakunai District and the most recent incident saw the demise of a person from the Malaita Province of the Solomon Islands.

They also said landowners from the Moroni Village who oversee their activities also are concerned about the safety of the road that serves the public and so had enforced the boundary where all artisanal miners should not pass with their activities.

Police Officer Peter Tauna and his officers carefully walked around the rocky slopes talking to the busy miners.

Tracking up the ore veins, it is evident people have dug through the bed rock creating ditches some of which comes right near the Port-Mine Access Road bitumen.

Since the discovery of the gold, the activities of the artisanal miners have taken over a massive area of natural jungle. The area covered is roughly more than the combined space of 5 soccer fields.

Deep holes were bored into the slope with crowbars and miners were seen working inside without any safety measures in place.

People could be seen from the road downhill moving like ants. Beneath another mass of workers work on the Karona Creek. They work with sedimentation that is washed down from the slopes.

Peter Tauna, head of the Panguna Police contingent emphasized that the boundary must be respected for the good of the travelling public that use the Port-Mine Access Road.

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Kangu roadworks the latest development in Buin

By Pauline Karalus

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A massive development was launched in South Bougainville in late June as construction commenced on the Kangu road. The trunk road was scheduled to start operations during July.

Equipment was transported to the development site on the Kangu road, which leads out from Buin’s main shopping center in a south-easterly direction towards the sea down to the famous Kangu Beach. Here a small wharf caters to ferries that bring cargo for store owners and other Buin businesses.

The road is more commonly used by the people of Laguai and Malabita and it will also make it easier for neighboring Solomon Islanders who bring goods to trade at the market.

Amidst ongoing reconciliations between local tribes and clans who have had unstable relations in past years, the developments within the region remain the autonomous government’s priority.

Existing schools have been undergoing renovations alongside the establishment of new government and non-government schools in remote areas.

Education seems to be the government’s first priority and the poor road conditions affect the ability of students, teachers and other people to travel to schools.

Remote districts are widely recognized as the least developed parts of the island. Frequent visits from non-government officials and tourists have dramatically changed the mindset of the locals towards appreciating and allowing development to progress and contribute towards sustainable livelihoods of Buin locals.

Despite the everyday law and order problems that still occur, Buin people have showed interest in allowing development to take hold in their region.

Buin, often referred to as a cowboy town, hosts the main shopping center for the people of the three districts of the southern tip of Bougainville.

In recent years it has seen great private and government developments. by both business and the government wise over the last how many years after the cease fire. An increase in the number of locally owned trade stores and buildings belonging to various sectors of the government has noticeably raised the standard of the town vicinity.

Within the town area, just a few meters away from the shopping center, is the Buin Police Station, which contains a few cells where inmates are kept according to the level of crime they have committed.

Regardless of several attempts and threats from locals, Buin Police Officers continue to work together as a team and reduce the number of crimes committed everyday by applying the law.

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Rain blocked roads a cause for concern

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Continuous rain has caused serious road blocks on the Buka-Buin Highway.

PMV vehicles were at high risk and caused floods on the road a cement bridge was swept away near Kekesu, which will require heavy maintenance is needed.

Moving vehicles from Buin, Siwai and Arawa were stranded, faced with the major destruction caused by the continuous rain all over the region.

In Kieta there were landslides causing road blocks for passengers, many of whom were students returning to school.

University students from Buin faced a similar problems and, starting from Leuro Range, it took them almost two days to arrive in Buka to get their tickets for flying.

“There are pot holes everywhere along the road,” said one student, “I nearly missed my flight.”

The pot holes along the roads are causing car breakdowns which is another problems to the highway drivers.

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Yesterday two land cruisers broke down at Mongai Primary School and the passengers had no choice but they have to walk to their villages with their cargo in their hands.

“We should do something to our road,” one concerned passenger said.

“If we just sit down and relax than nothing will happen.”

Most of the people in Buin are complaining that they are not getting enough from town because of the tragedy.

Mr Aloysius Masiu, Konnou Council of Elders chairman, is negotiating with Electoral Manager John Itanu regarding road maintenance projects this year.

Mr Masiu said that road maintenance should be starting this month, but the outstanding amount must be offset before implementing the actual plan for this year.

“Offsetting the outstanding amount will keep peoples mouth shut,” said Jacob Makan, an elementary chairman.

He said that every constituency should work together to make things happen.

“We must stop depending on our members every day,” Mr Makan continued, “there are some other things that we need to make it happen” he said.

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Eight major Arawa roads upgraded

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In a major boost to the Arawa town economy, Australia and the Autonomous Bougainville Governments have completed upgrades to eight key town roads.

The K4.3 million works by contractors Dekenai, Bougainville Earth Works, Kompaini, Ioro Roadworks, Central Bougainville Engineering and Eastrac have improved safety and reduced travel times on Arawa’s roads and provided jobs for more than 100 people from the local area.

Local business owner, Bertha Lorenz, noted that in the past potholes and poor road condition had made travel slow in Arawa Town and increased maintenance costs on her vehicle.

”It now takes much less time to bring clients to my guesthouse and go to the market or bank,” Ms Lorenz said.

“It is a smoother ride not having to swerve to avoid potholes, and pedestrians in town are now safer.”

The project builds on previous Australian funded road works between Morgan Junction and Tunuru as well as the regular maintenance of Bougainville’s main trunk road and the loop from Arawa south through Buin, Tonu, Sovele, Jaba and Panguna.

Australia’s acting High Commissioner, Bronte Moules, was pleased to note the sustained improvements to Bougainville’s transport network.

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“The completion of this project sees a better connected town with easier access to essential services such as the hospital, market, police barracks and schools,” Ms Moules said.

“The new road surface also helps to support the business enabling environment in Bougainville.

“These most recent works build on Australia’s previous support sealing four different roads in Arawa in 2012.”

The project included provision for new line markings for junctions as well as over 25 roads safety signs and is funded by the Australian Aid Program and delivered through the Transport Sector Support Program (TSSP).

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Land Cruisers the only option for treacherous roads

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

648-land-cruiser-lourabo-river Land Cruiser near the Lourabo River, Central Bougainville. Picture by Benjamin Heriberth Noibio.

The main road from Kokopau town in Bougainville’s north to Buin town in the south is quite bumpy and this hinders vehicles apart from the Land Cruisers that are engaged to make the journey.

The demand for other vehicles is quite low compared to Land Cruisers on the region. All the business houses in Arawa and Kokopau own Land cruisers for that reason and the number on the roads has increased.

School students from all over Bougainville never travel by bus during holidays and more than 90 percent of the students living on the mainland of Bougainville travel by land cruisers to their various places, returning when the holidays are over.

Passengers especially from Buin and Siwai need these type of vehicles due to the fact that the areas have a lot of rivers, mountains and the road is slippery most of the time.

The Leuro Range is the most treacherous leg of the trip to Buin town. It is very difficult terrain to navigate, especially for PMV buses.  Only Land Cruisers are trusted to complete the without encountering problems or causing accidents.

During the visit of Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, the people of Buin and Siwai were more than happy to hear that infrastructure, mainly road sealing, was mentioned during his speech.

When the road upgrade is completed, services and vital goods will be transported safely using vehicles other than Land Cruisers.

Drivers and passengers currently trust Land Cruisers as the only vehicle that is eligible to go anywhere despite the difficulties of the environment in the area. The situation is triggering more and more land cruisers on the region with more confident drivers.

It is the only trusted vehicle in Buin and its number will surely be increase in the years to come.

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July floods blocked roads in Siroke-Manetai

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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It rained cats and dogs in the south of Bougainville in July and the heavy rain triggered rivers to flood and blocked people from moving from one place to another. The road going up to Atamo-Central Bougainville flooded heavily, blocking vehicles in either sides.

In Siroke-Manetai, a lake overflowed forcing people to cross using rafts made from wild bananas (called Kamora in Avaipa language). The lake is 20 to 50 meters from the trunk road and the overflow of the lake remained for few days. People intending to go to either Arawa or Buka had no choice but have to cross to the other side with rafts being used as boats of transporting their luggage.

The lake usually rises from 2 to 5 metres and at the upper level it becomes is somewhat dangerous for vehicles to cross. People take risks when crossing the overflowing lake due to the fact that the lake has crocodiles and other river creatures.

“Passengers especially women who usually go to Arawa to sell their goods in the market must go home as soon as they predict that it’s going to rain,” said Jonathan Bataru.

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Mr Bataru said that it would be good to build a bridge or a road avoiding the lake because people have been facing the same problem for years.

“The delivery of services can’t be delayed if a bridge is built,” Mr Bataru said.

“The Atamo area doesn’t have any aid post and patients were, in danger-especially pregnant women who need quick actions.”

There are concerns a change of the climate will make the situation worse than it was in the previous years.

Mr Bataru said that there are two flowing rivers, Emeuvi and Siripuka, apart from the lake. All three bodies of waters which hinders the flow of services need three bridges to be in built so that people will move freely without risking their lives.

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Road sealing continues in Buka

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The smooth rides get longer and longer each day as contractors continue work to seal the road around Buka town.

The K9.9 million project is being undertaken by Dekenai Constructions Ltd, one of Papua New Guinea’s largest civil engineering contractors, who have been contracted by the Autonomous Bougainville Government

621-sealed-buka-roadWith the main road through town now complete, attention has now turned towards the peripheral road network.

In time the town roads will be sealed, giving easy access to the many trading houses, government departments and other public services in Buka town.

On the main road there has also been a noticeable reduction in dust in the air by comparison to the nearby unsealed sections.

The road network is also being constructed with ample drainage that will ensure that erosion and damage is minimised in times of heavy rainfall.

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Panguna mother finds opportunity in disaster

By Ishmael Palipal

Mother panning for gold at the landslide area in Pakia Gap. Picture: Ben Kinah
Mother panning for gold at the landslide area in Pakia Gap. Picture: Ben Kinah

After many long days of wind and rain in the recent weeks in most parts of Bougainville, the main Arawa-Panguna-Nagovis road was blocked by a landslide at the Pakia Gap.

Road access has not yet been brought back to the people of Panguna, Nagovis and other areas that use that road link to have access to proper services back in Arawa town.

People carrying goods from the other side of the landslide towards the village- Panguna. Picture: Ben KinahA report also revealed that many of the peoples gardens and houses in the Panguna area were destroyed during the storm.

Despite of all that, one mother was making use of the opportunity that the landslide brought with it at the road in Pakia Gap. She immediately began to pan gold from the soil that was dug out by the heavy rain onto the road.

She commented that it was a good chance to find good grams of gold from the soil that was once unreachable but was now turned over by the landslide.

Meanwhile, the road still stays blocked and the people have to carry goods if they are either going to town or from town to village as they wait for the responsible authorities to clear the area.

Recently the Red Cross, Good Samaritan Natural Disaster Volunteers and some local business houses, such as Jomik, supplied goods for the relief of those affected and suffering from the disaster.

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