16 Apr 2008

PNG minister seeks new Highlands road access after Simbu landslide

3:35 pm on 16 April 2008

Papua New Guinea's Transport Minister says he will re-open an alternative road to the Highland areas that have been cut off by a landslide.

Heavy rain caused a massive landslide on the weekend and the government has declared a natural disaster zone on the Okuk Highway in Simbu Province.

The landslide displaced 3,000 people and crushed 80 homes and gardens, affecting four provinces, mining and oil fields.

Don Polye says the earth is still moving and the area is very unstable and he's now looking for alternatives to bring supplies to the about two million people.

"What I have instructed my people to do is to open up an alternative place for traffic at the back of the mountains, that's a road that exists and clearing it to what it needs for lighter traffic to flow to get utilities, like fuel up to the provinces."

Don Polye says he believes it will take about a month before the road is passable again.