Bypass being created at landslip area in Chimbu

A problematic portion of the Highlands Highway is at Guo, about 4km west of the Chimbu Province capital Kundiawa.

A major landslide which occurred on January 8 in that area has blocked the Highlands Highway for the past six days.

At the moment a temporary bypass has been created by the Simbu-based Kaiaworks Construction under the Works Department's supervision.

The Government allocated an undisclosed amount of funds for the removal of the debris and the construction of the bypass.

Additional funding was allocated to Kaiaworks to build a permanent road apart from the bypass.

The ethnic Enduga Elgu tribes people had initially demanded K1 million from the State for what they termed as "environmental damages."

Fifty percent of the demand was slashed after negotiations with representatives from Works (DOW) and the provincial administration on January 11.

The landowners were paid K500,000 on February 2.

As Kaiaworks was building the permanent stretch (a distance of about 180 metres) in parallel to the bypass fresh landslips occurred on March 16.

The land movement has caused havoc to both the one-lane (150-metre-long) bypass and the new permanent road in the making.

Provincial works engineer Simon Urambo told Loop PNG that land instability and continual torrential rains triggered the landslip.

He predicted that permanent restoration would be possible within the next 12 weeks.

After the reoccurrence on March 16 the flow of traffic was effectively jeopardised for seven days.

Big trucks hauling cargoes into the western part of the Highlands region; Jiwaka, Western Highlands, Enga, Southern Highlands and Hela provinces, were grounded in Kundiawa until yesterday, Thursday March 23, when a second bypass was constructed by Kaiaworks.

During the blockage, trucks and buses stopped on either side and commuters crossed the slippery track on foot to continue their journey.

Youths have taken advantage of the chaotic situation by slapping "unnecessary fees" on those crossing the mud-stricken area.

Police providing security at the scene could not do much to stop the "opportunists" from collecting fees from passengers and others opting to cross the section.

Bag carriers (youths), who piggybacked light cargoes from one side to the other charged K10 for their service.

(Pictures by Michael Koma) 

Michael Koma