A 45 KILOMETRE highway linking Aiambak port with Lake Murray in the Middle Fly region of Western province was officially opened on 18 April.

Ok Tedi Mining managing director Peter Graham and the Middle Fly member of parliament Roy Biyama opened the road.

Costing a total of K59.9 million, the highway rehabilitation project was funded by the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) portion of the Western province Peoples Dividend Trust Fund (WPPDTF), and delivered by the Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF).

The construction contract was awarded to Starwest Constructions Limited with technical engineering support from Kramer Ausenco.

Starwest began work in November 2013 and completed this lower portion of the Barramundi Highway two years later in November 2015.

Mr Graham said the project was a significant investment.

“If we don’t maintain the road, keep the drainage right, in no time the road will start to suffer and we’ll lose much of the value of the road. So again, we look at community support to look after the road.”

“The road itself is a means to an end, it’s not an end in itself. What is important is that the community can now take advantage of what the road offers. It’s a life line, it gets you to improved access to health, education, markets, it’s a wonderful opportunity but that opportunity now rests in your hands,” Mr Graham said.

Mr Biyama pledged his support to working closely with OTDF chief executive Ian Middleton and the foundation in delivering more projects for the Middle Fly people.

“Mr Middleton, I never knew you, but looking at such things you are doing, creating job opportunities for my people, I would like to support you all the way with whatever OTDF does,” Mr Biyama said.

In addition Mr Biyama pledged to give the community a canter truck to support their rubber and food security needs.

The Lake Murray local level government president Sep Galeva asked OTDF to further assist the community with rubber, eaglewood, rice and vegetable crops for sale to markets that are now more accessible to them.

“This road will open up a lot of markets for our people. It’s not just rubber; it may open other things like eaglewood,” Mr Galeva said.

“I would like to encourage OTDF by giving you full support in whatever you want to do to bring cash flow into our people’s pocket. I’m with you all the way. Whatever it takes to build infrastructure for our people, I’m with you,” he said.

“If there is a development partner here who can support the community, we need to partner with them to deliver what our people need,” Mr Galeva added.