Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says Kagua-Erave in Southern Highlands must no longer be relegated to the status of a forgotten “back page” of Papua New Guinea.
The Prime Minister made this announcement on Thursday, December 28, 2023, while launching the Kagua-Erave Five-Year Development Plan and inaugurating two crucial road projects under the flagship ‘Connect PNG’ programme: the upgrading and sealing of both Mukiri-Erave Road and Rinditah-Kware Road. These vital roads play a pivotal role in connecting the region to the Gulf-Southern Highlands Highway.
Prime Minister Marape also presented K5 million to Kagua-Erave District to start initiating the plan.
Commending Southern Highlands Governor, Hon. William Powi, for his visionary approach to the province’s development, Prime Minister Marape also acknowledged the foresight of Kagua-Erave MP Hon. Maina Pano in driving progress at the district level.
Addressing an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, Prime Minister Marape emphasised, “Kagua-Erave must no longer be the ‘back page.’ You host Gobe and Kutubu oil projects, so how can you continue to remain backward?”
Reflecting on the historical context, he recalled the late Anderson Agiru, former Southern Highlands (and later Hela) Governor, stating in 1997, “No roads, no oil.”
Prime Minister Marape noted, “The oil wells are drying up now and there are still no roads.
“I want to tell the people of Kagua-Erave and Southern Highlands, and the neighboring areas of Gulf and Western provinces, that if past national governments have not done this for you, I am sorry. I am here today to respect you as a ‘garden’ of Papua New Guinea, which supplies money to the country, to assure you that there is hope for a better future,” he affirmed.
Highlighting the significance of Kagua-Erave’s role in the national infrastructure, Prime Minister Marape reminded the community of their privilege in hosting the Gulf-Southern Highlands Highway.
He said, “The port in Kikori is not Kikori’s port but a national port, the Gulf-Southern Highlands Highway which passes through Kagua-Erave is not Kagua-Erave’s road but a national highway.”
Describing the alternate route as a means to alleviate the burden on the Highlands Highway leading to Lae, he added, “It will deliver cargo from Kikori into the Highlands and fresh produce from the Highlands to Port Moresby.”
In a plea for cooperation, he appealed to the people of Southern Highlands and Hela to respect the long-time traditional trading partners in Kikori, urging them not to disrupt their lifestyle with the completion of the highway.
Prime Minister Marape concluded the event by spending the night in Kagua, underlining his commitment to the region’s development and growth