10 May 2013

Road maintenance prime aim of PNG soldiers sent to Highlands

3:23 pm on 10 May 2013

Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister says recent deployments to parts of the Highlands Highway have been more about maintaining the road than addressing security issues.

Local media has reported that the National Executive Council is sending in soldiers to restore order on the country's premier road link.

The government wants to discourage lawlessness and disruptions to Highway restoration work by landowners demanding compensation.

Traffic flow is frequently plagued by road blockages created by natural events such as a recent major land slip in Chimbu province.

The minister, Fabian Pok, says while the Defence Force personnel are there to assist police in maintaining order, their prime role is to help engineers work on the road.

"They have gone up there to ensure that the road is cleared for traffic to flow. So we're continuously going down to build roads and maintain roads and arrange construction. Because it's a major highway, we need it cleared quickly to help with the contractors."

Fabian Pok