THE Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors have approved a multitranche financing facility not exceeding $866.5 million to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to fund the rehabilitation, upgrade, and maintenance of the country’s Highlands Highway.
“This new investment program will improve the sustainability of the Highlands Highway — the country’s most strategic national road that traverses the Highlands region, PNG’s most populous and resource abundant region,” said David Hill, Country Director of ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission.
The Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Program requires an overall investment of about $1 billion. ADB is providing $680 million, with the project also expecting to attract about $186.5 million from other development partners. A $148.5 million government contribution will also help fund the program. For the first tranche, the Government of Australia has committed a $11.5 million grant to cofinance the program.
The Highlands region is known for its agricultural exports including coffee, tea, cocoa, and vegetables. About 40% of PNG’s population live in the Highlands. The 1,200-kilometer (km) long highway is the lifeline for the Highlands region, connecting 1,800 km of regional and feeder roads as well as servicing the region’s 3 million people in the rural hinterland. It connects the mountains with the coast and connects with the Lae port — the nation’s largest and busiest sea port.
The investment program responds to the government’s national development and transport strategies, and will rehabilitate, upgrade, and sustainably maintain 430 km of the Highlands Highway; improve road safety; support the establishment of logistics platforms and services for agricultural production; and introduce transport sector reforms.