Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tari loses new bridge

Source: Highlands Post, Post Courier , November 05 2011
By ANDREW ALPHONSE

CONTINOUS heavy rain and flood has washed away the newly built temporary by-pass culvert bridge across the Alua river near Tari in the new Hela Province.
Huge trucks ferrying supplies to the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project areas have been stranded at either sides of Mendi and Tari section of the Highlands Highway since last Thursday. At Tari town, local markets and few shops reportedly ran short of basic supplies in the last few days.
Some people took the risk to bring in the supplies across the river on foot before catching a waiting vehicle on the other side to get to Tari.
Due to the road closure, vendors have also increased the prices of basic goods.
Vehicles and passengers from Mendi and other parts of the Highlands region could not get into Tari, Koroba, Lake Kopiago, Komo, Nogoli, Hides 4 and Hides 1 project areas in the last few days as traffic was severely disrupted. Only light 4WD vehicles are taking the risk to cross the river using a tiny by-pass created upstream by the locals who have charged K50 per vehicle that crossed. Few metres downstream, the locals squeezed the opportunity to make a profit by building a small foot bridge. They are charging K1 a person for “using” the bridge to cross to either side. Contractor Curtain Brothers (CB) PNG Ltd last week tried to repair the bridge but the locals threatened the workers and would not allow them to do repair work as they demanded compensation payment for the land used.
On Saturday, with the help of Tari policemen led by police station commander chief inspector Michael Welly and mobile squad 10 from Mendi attached with the LNG security operations, the company was able to start work on the bridge.
An expatriate CB civil works specialist said the company would place some more 10 metres long galvanised culverts across the river to spread and reduce the force of any future floods while rock boulders would also be placed upstream to try and slow the current of the river flow.
Another CB community affairs officer said they expected to complete the repair work on the temporary bridge tomorrow.
The source said the temporary bridge was only constructed last month but the company suspected that the locals may have used debris and boulders to block the in-lets which forced the river to over-flood and wash the culverts away.
The temporary bridge was built at the current site upstream after the aging bailey bridge at the river collapsed on October 13.

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