A severe fuel shortage has hit Mt. Hagen prompting motorists and residents to stock up on what’s left of the city’s fuel, as residents contend with landslips that have cut off the flow of supplies into the Highlands.
This morning, there were long queues of vehicles at service stations in and around Mt. Hagen as vehicle owners tried to buy fuel.
EMTV’s Hagen Correspondent, Vasinatta Yama, reported this morning that fuel prices had risen over the last 36 hours as the supplies dwindled.
Meanwhile, the President of the Road Transport Association, Jacob Luke, who is currently in Mt. Hagen, expressed frustration over the lack of maintenance along the Highlands Highway.
“We comply with whatever the government asks of us,” he said. “But I think (Government) have let us down big time.”
Along the Simbu section of the Highlands Highway, traffic came to a standstill over the past week with locals charging road tolls for pedestrian traffic crossing the damaged section.
Aside from being President of the RTA, Luke is also the owner of Mapai Transport, a company which provides freight services to all Highlands provinces as well as coastal provinces in Papua New Guinea. Mapai Transport is one example of a road user that requires the road to be in a usable state.
Mapai Transport released an official statement today, in it they described:
“The road washout at Wandi in the Chimbu Province has highlighted the inability of the PNG Government to act swiftly and meet the needs of the businesses and the people of Papua New Guinea…
“The road has been closed for 5 days with no way forward until the owner of Mapai Transport, Mr. Jacob Luke negotiated a settlement from his own company’s bank account and paid the landowners compensation…
The statement includes, “It has been reported travelling publics knowledge that only 3% of the Okuk Highway is in Good condition with the balance either Fair or Poor condition. While it’s true that there have been repairs done but the sheer amount of work that needs to be tackled is significant.”
High on the list of priorities is the need to reopen the highway to large trucks, before food prices in the Highlands become unaffordable.
As President of the Road Transport Association, Luke is requesting for travellers to delay their travel for the next three days, allowing them to speed up clearance of the highway, adding that the constant traffic and demands from motorists are slowing work.