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09 January 2013

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The Okuk Highlands Highway is a disaster. Horrific road conditions and very unfriendly bystanders.

There has been a population explosion over the past 2-3 decades and, to many rural youths (and seniors), the highway is the only "chance" of any income, i.e., looting vehicles, pot-hole gangs and deliberate sabotage by re-directing streams to cause landslides and blockages.

Since the announcement by the national government of its intention to have Chinese to finance a 6 billion re-make, there has been a mad rush to erect stalls, trade stores, fences, gardens etc in an effort to get paid compensation.

And, if it is anything like the Simbu buy-back, they will get paid if they share with the government officers making the pay-out.

It is time the PNG government showed some backbone and regained ownership of the Okuk Highway.The entire highway from Lae wharf to the LNG project area should be declared a disaster zone with special police powers given to Mobile Squads to bring it back under control.

A national advertising campaign should be launched to inform anyone who builds within the 40 metre corridor( i.e., 20 metres either side of the centre line) is trepassing on government property and will be charged.

Illegal gardens and buildings should be given 30 days notice to be removed or they will be destroyed without compensation.

It is rather ironic the national government can boast about its intention to "vaporise" K1 billion in Moresby for the 2015 South Pacific Games where the only real winners from this will be the usual clique of Moresby insiders.

The sad state of the Okuk Highway and the added costs of looting etc is being paid for daily by the millions of highlanders who depend on it as their only source of goods and access to market for their produce.

Yes the highway needs an urgent makeover, however some thought should be given to the locals along its length to be included in the spin-offs.

This could be done by giving them minor maintenance contracts (wok-mak) and also security contracts.

The volume of traffic along the highway has probably gone in excess of 100 percent, however the highlands mummas are still washing their kaukau, pikininis and secondhand clothes in the gutters as the million kina rigs roar past.

With respect, Phil, the highway is a problem far too great for the RSPCA or any other "do good" organisation. We need a "SWAT" Squad.

A budding politician in his formatitive years perhaps.

The essence of this imbroglio is one of responsibility. That every action has a reaction is a law of physics, however in these cases, what might happen if the warped use of traditional values backfires?

Mind you, this type of thing is nothing new. Look at those who try to rort the Workers Compensation in Oz with cons over claims of bad backs etc. and then get filmed doing manual work elsewhere?

However, let's look at the other side of the coin, sorry, Kina. The owner of the claimed pusi could well be liable for animal cruelty in that he didn't look after his pet in a satisfactory manner, allowing it to stray onto the road.

Also, perhaps the RSPCA may wish to consider charges over the obvious potential destruction of PNG wildlife but the said pusi being allowed to roam and potentially cause the deaths of native fauna, etc.

Spurious legal claims could might also result in false accusations since I notice the corpus delecti hasn't yet been produced or its subsequently proven demise linked in any way with the said vehicle.

What might happen if the case went to court and costs were awarded against the litigant?

The problem here is that this situation has been allowed to develop due to a lack of debate and logical discussion.

Perhaps the basis of government compensation has been such a good cash cow in the past that the expectations of the many have been appreciably been raised in a disproportionate way?

The journey starts with the first step.

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