ADB signs $325m loan to connect remote communities in Papua New Guinea


Asian Development Bank agrees loan to help fund tranche two of Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Programme. 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Papua New Guinea have signed a $325m loan to help fund the next phase of the Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Program, a key transport development connecting some of the country’s most remote rural communities to vital services and market opportunities.

The loan will help upgrade 71 bridges along the national Highlands Highway, comprising 41 two-lane and 30 single-lane bridges, between Lae Nadzab Airport to Kagamuga Airport in Mount Hagen. This will help these bridges to meet national design standards and mitigate climate change risks. The rehabilitation or replacement of these bridges will also include pedestrian walkways separated by rails or barriers and will provide easy accessibility for older citizens, people with disabilities, and children. At least 20 water points for washing and bathing will also be installed on bridges, which will provide safer amenities for women in particular.

ADB director general for the Pacific, Leah Gutierrez, said: “The Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Programme is not only developing critical transport infrastructure and better connecting rural communities, it is also training the next generation of women civil engineers who will continue to connect communities for decades to come.”

Papua New Guinea’s treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, signed the agreement to fund the upgrade of bridges and support the safe and efficient movement of people between the Highlands Region and markets, said: “This project is creating more opportunities for about three million people in the Highlands Region, both in terms of business activity and widening access to social services. 

The programme will also improve the sustainability of the Highlands Highway, the nation’s most strategic national road that traverses five provinces in the country’s most populous and resource-abundant region. It is rehabilitating and upgrading 430km of the Highlands Highway, improving road safety, supporting the establishment of logistics platforms and services for agricultural production, and improving sector governance through reforms and institutional development.