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13 October 2012

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My memories of Kassam, Daulo, and the steep pinch just before entering Kundiawa are of 'chains on' and 'get pushed through the mud by Bulldozer' moments.

Dust was the common feature along the flats in the Dry. As convoys of Toyota six ton trucks made their way along the Markham valley, their Captains drove furiously and chewed betel-nut to wile away the hours. Wind blown spittle brightly emblazoned the doors and tarpaulins.

When wishing to overtake such vehicles, one's approach from the rear was mostly unnoticed by the driver in front as the plumes of dust obscured the vision.

In any case, the front-runner was mostly in a world of his own; an arm, even a leg languidly propped outboard as the chariot rolled on.

The best method of getting his attention upon emerging from the fog of dust was, in a none too subtle manoeuvre, to bump his rear end with the bullbar. It usually worked.

Many head-on collisions happened as a result of sudden unannounced overtaking out of the dust exercises.

The highway, in the days of my experience, was a great drive.
Coming down from Chuave toward Goroka, one day, I spotted Danny Leahy's Landcruiser ahead of me.

He saw me.

I imagine he didn't fancy the prospect of eating my dust because I sure couldn't catch the blighter. At times we exceeded 70mph.

(Sorry to those who assume my foolish driving was a precursor to the road's degradation.)

Well written, David. Makes it an enjoyable read despite the tragedy that is the highway.

What a boon it would be for the local economy if it were fixed and maintained.

It would ease costs for the foreign mining companies, but more importantly, allow the rebuilding of agriculture and tourism industries, so dependent upon transport infrastructure.

Thanks David. It's very interesting to read the success story of this gentleman.

A month ago I was driven from Goroka, over Daulo Pass, to Chuave in a Toyota 'Troupie'. It took us two hours which used to be been one hour when the road was 'good' my reliable driver said.

Clusters of huge, deep potholes forced him to ease the vehicle into them at crawling pace. No room to go around them.

Slump areas formed an abrupt, 300mm step down right across the road and a similar step up further along. I can well believe the 600mm trench David Meredith speaks of.

A bit of a change since I and thousands of villagers built Daulo Pass in 1953. Traffic's a bit heavier too!

And Chinese money to fix it up? Probably Chinese labour as well. I fully endorse David's comments about the PNG people - friendly and welcoming as always. But I heard disconcerting whispers against the prospect of Chinese workers in their midst.

In the meantime - congratulations, Mr Jacob Luke. Keep up your enterprising work.

One of my PNG friends who has worked in Sydney for a few years tried to impress on me that the main problem holding back PNGns is their lack of organising ability.

Now, if they are going to borrow K6 billion from the Chinese to fix up this road, I think they will definitely need a band of Chinese to organise the whole rebuilding and the constant supervision of the maintenance and policing of this road.

There may well be some good well-trained PNG engineers still around who could help. But due to poor government, and poor organising skills over the past years, these engineers have not been able to get on top of all the problems that have arise with trying to maintain this vital highway.

I'm glad that the warmth and genuine friendliness of the PNG people is still there and I would hope this would be shown to these Chinese people who would be needed to see the borrowed money is properly spent and bring great dividends for the country.

I wish Jacob Luke well. He certainly must be a person who knows how to cope with setbacks in life!

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