Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alua bridge collapses

Source: Highlands Post, Post Courier, Tuesday October 18, 2011
By ANDREW ALPHONSE
VILLAGERS in Tari that live near the collapsed Alua river bridge yesterday called on the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project developer ExxonMobil and the State to immediately rebuild their bridge.
Spokesman and former Wabia councilor Andaija Tobani said the Wabia and Dabaraba villagers call on ExxonMobil and the State to construct a new bridge over Alua and the nearby Kawini rivers. Mr Tobani said the Alua bridge was built in the pre-colonial era by then Australian Army civil engineers. He said the bridge was never meant for heavy trucks and the continuous use of the bridge by semi-trailer trucks with tonnes of heavy equipment, machinery and other materials bound for the LNG project sites at Hides, Nogoli and Komo have forced the bridge to lose its grip and collapse.
Mr Tobani said last year, civil engineers from ExxonMobil and its international contractor Clough Curtain Joint Venture (CCJV) visited the bridges and after checking the condition of the bridge, told the locals that they would erect a new one.
However, Mr Tobani said early this year, the ExxonMobil and CCJV engineers returned and reversed this decision and instead told the landowners that they would not construct a new bridge rather build beams from underneath to contain the weights.
He said the locals opposed this idea and told the engineers to go back and return with their first plan to build a new bridge.
Last Thursday morning, the 30 metre long bridge collapsed after a huge truck loaded with aggregated gravels bound for the LNG project forced the bridge to unearth at both ends and plunge into the river. The truck belongs to Tari based international contractor Curtain Brothers (PNG) Ltd. Curtain Brothers supply crushed river bed and limestone gravels to ExxonMobil at Nogoli, Hides and KomoLNG sites from its Tari operations.
Only light 4WD vehicles and PMV trucks are using the detour route, the Hulia loop road, travelling at the back of Tari Secondary School to Dauli Teachers College before getting back on the highway at Yangome. When the road is becoming unsafe, local youths are putting up illegal roadblocks at several sections and demanding passing vehicles for hefty fines. Police had physical confrontations last week with these youths to clear the roads but it is still continuing.
Two civil engineers from CCJV, who are doing civil and engineering work with the LNG project at Komo and Hides, visited the site and made an assessment of the collapse. One of the CCJV workmen said work at the LNG project would be disrupted.
The source said with the collapse of the Alua bridge, ExxonMobil is likely to use the Hercules 130 aircrafts and would no longer use the Highlands Highway.

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