Prime Minister Hon. James Marape MP has announced a major K100 million upgrade programme to the Hiritano Highway linking Gulf, Central and National Capital District (NCD). 
He announced this in Kerema on Monday (April 12th 2021) after launching the Ihu Special Economic Zone (ISEZ) and other projects in Kikori District.
Prime Minister Marape also announced funding of K5-million for Kerema Town roads; K100, 000 from the National Gaming Control Board to upgrade the Kerema Rugby League Oval; and another K20, 000 to support the local basketball competition.
He was accompanied by Gulf Governor Hon.Chris Haiveta and Central Governor Hon. Robert Agarobe; Goilala MP and Transport Minister Hon. William Samb; Works Minister Hon. Michael Nali; and Kikori MP and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hon. Soroi Eoe.
Prime Minister Marape told hundreds of people who gathered in Kerema that the Hiritano Highway was a major road that connected Gulf and Central with NCD. 
“The National Government will support many of the upcoming resource projects like Papua LNG and Pasca, and others like the Ihu Special Economic Zone in the Gulf province,” he said.
“The upgrading to the last stretch of the Hiritano Highway that links Kerema is part of a K100-million road upgrade programme funded by the World Bank and co-founded by the Government of PNG.
“We are getting the last stretch of the road linking Malalaua to Kerema, and other sections that have deteriorated in parts of Central Province, upgraded and re-constructed.”
Prime Minister Marape said it would be funded with a loan of K70-million from the World Bank that was being approved, while the National Government would chip in K30-million to have the last stretch of the road to Kerema sealed. 
“By this time next year, the contractors will be working on upgrading and reconstructing work on upgrading the last stretch of the highway that has deteriorated and not sealed into Kerema,’’ he said.
“Whilst the road upgrading to the Hiritano Highway is being worked on, the National Government is coming here today with another commitment of K5million for the Kerema Town roads.
“The Works Department has asked the Gulf Provincial Supply and Tenders board to issue the tender, and once it is approved, it will engage a contractor to work on the road to give a facelift and restore some identity and belongingness.
“I came here today to Kerema to signal to you that National Government is based in Port Moresby and we partner with your provincial governments on the ground. 
“My visits and staying with provincial governors, local members and leaders is to tell them: ‘You pick up the responsibility and create development to the needs of your province and people in the districts. Make it happen and we will come in where we can’.’’
Prime Minister Marape also appealed to the people of Kerema to go into fishing, gardening, agriculture and SME activities than wander around in Port Moresby and other places. 
“You are lucky people as some of you live along the corridors of the major Hiritano Highway linking Kerema to Malalaua, and into the vast Central Province,” he said.
“Both provinces have valuable resources like land and fisheries and marine resources.
“I appeal to you people to allow any road programmes and projects to flow through, as when there is a road, money will flow and other services will trickle down to the people.
“We appeal to you (Gulf people living in other provinces) to return home as the National Government will work and partner with your provincial government to create opportunities for you when the Hiritano Highway and Kerema Town roads are fixed.”
Prime Minister Marape spent a night in Kerema before leaving for Port Moresby on Tuesday morning (April 13th 2021).