DAVID MEREDITH | Big Rigs
From nothing but a noble family heritage, he now operates a fleet of 75 Kenworth T650s, around 200 flat-top, drop deck and tanker trailers, three depots and employs several hundred people.
Ten more Kenworths are due to arrive in the next few weeks and, with an order for 15 or so in January, he'll be the proud owner of his 100 of the landmark US brand.
There are also a dozen Japanese cab-overs in his fleet, which are restricted to town work because of the appalling conditions on the highways.
I drove the highlands highway with a convoy of 10 semi-trailers from Lae up through Goroka to Mt Hagen. My amazement and wonder at this majestic country was quickly overwhelmed by the critical challenges faced by PNG transport companies.
Although it's the key transport artery for the delivery of essentials to the population, and sole supply line for the projects that are financing PNG's future growth, the highway is a national disgrace. In fact, that's understating the case.
None of the test tracks I've driven hold a candle to PNG roads, despite big chunks of PNG kinas being allocated for construction, repair and maintenance. Wherever that cash goes, you can't see it on the tarmac.
Jacob's repair shop regularly replaces landing legs on trailers that have been bent beyond repair when a truck drops off a 600mm trench that is completely unavoidable.
I stood beside sections of road and listened to trucks grind and groan a tortured path across holes and gullies that had trailer linkages, suspensions, and turntables at and beyond maximum travel.
The holes are so extreme that trucks can easily lurch violently at crawl speed, lose stability and fall over.
That's when the second curse of local transport takes over. As locals descend to pillage the rig, the driver goes bush, and the police are nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile, the cargo is "redistributed" and pops up at roadside stalls for several kilometres either side of the accident.
There is also an active and vibrant secondary economy trading stolen fuel, which is ignored by authorities.
Every community along the route has rickety tables on the roadside with dirty containers of diesel, where a truck driver has pulled over, dropped 20 litres of diesel into the vendors drum and moved on, picking up a commission for the sale on the return leg.
Last year alone, stolen fuel cost Mapai Transport over $3million.
If PNG's new government got serious about fixing the appalling roads, these lifelines of the future could rapidly reduce damage and delay enough to nearly halve fuel costs, slash repair bills and, most importantly guarantee supply of essentials to industry and community alike.
Then they could enliven the local business community to address the rest of the problems.
As a fair-skinned, bespectacled redhead in isolated tribal villages I felt all eyes on me, but the warmth and genuine friendliness of the PNG people always made me feel welcome, even the guys casually swinging machetes from their left hands.
Jacob Luke, his countrymen, and this magnificent country deserve a better deal from their national government.