AN ECONOMIC boost for Papua New Guinea and huge benefits for port users are expected when the Lae Port development project is up and running, the port operator said.

The Lae Tidal basin wharf, currently undergoing its developmental phase, will be operated by PNG Ports Corporation (PNGPCL) after an official handover, says Minister for public enterprises and state investments, Ben Micah.

Mr Micah announced this during the commissioning of the completion of phase one of the Tidal basin project in Lae on 17 December, 2014.

PNG Ports said the first phase of the upgrade boasts modern facilities including a tidal basin, a multipurpose berth, and terminal works including buildings, storage areas, roads, drainage, water, electricity and sewerage services.

The improvements made in the first phase of the upgrade will significantly boost the port’s cargo-handling capacity, the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) said in a statement.

Mr Micah said he was happy that the work carried out was impressive and was the first time in the country’s history where a development of such magnitude had been completed on time and on budget.

The IPBC is the implementing agency for the Lae Port Tidal basin project.

Built at a total cost of K734 million, the facility adds on to Lae Port’s fame as PNGPCL’s largest and most profitable port, PNG Ports said.

PNGPCL board chairman, Nathaniel Poya, assured Mr Micah, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Independent Public Business Corporation, stakeholders and development partners that PNGPCL was ready to take on the huge role that would be brought on by the new facility.

PNGPCL board chairman Nathaniel Poya said the new facility, worth more than K700 million, will serve as the central port for big ships travelling to the country and the Asia Pacific region.

The Lae port is PNGPCL’s largest port and upon completion of this new project, the port’s cargo handling capacity will be increased, he said.

Phase one has been completed, with the second phase progressing.

Mr Micah said the business community had already expressed interest to make use of the port facility.

Mr Micah thanked the Asian Development Bank for funding the project, and contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company, for successfully carrying out the work and other partners in making the project happen.

Lae Port development project is the largest ever undertaken by the Asian Development Bank in the Pacific, PNG Ports said.