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EU-STREIT Rehabilitates Rural Roads To Improve Market Access For 7000 Farmers In Papua New Guinea


To create climate resilient and efficient transport
infrastructure for farming communities in Papua New Guinea,
the EU-STREIT PNG Programme started new projects to
rehabilitate two farm-to-market access roads in rural
Sepik.

Wewak, Papua New Guinea –
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.

© Scoop Media

 



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