The project engaged local people as traffic controllers and maintenance workers, providing employment at a time when the Kokoda Track is closed to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Helen Weana, a ward councillor in Hiri District, was one of the traffic controllers and said the repairs keep the road open, which has a major positive impact on communities in the region.
“Local villages benefit from improved access to markets and public services. This includes travel to health centres and schools in Sogeri and beyond,” said Weana.
“We were pleased to see a big upgrade to the Vesulogo Bridge and now these sections of the road are being graded and gravelled will make travel easier.
“It has been a quiet year without trekkers coming and going, but when the time comes for tourists to return, we will have the infrastructure ready to receive them.”
The road works were supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Kokoda Initiative and inspected recently by Central Province Governor, Robert Agarobe, Acting Kokoda Track Authority CEO Julius Wargirai and Australian government representatives.
The road runs between Sogeri and Owers’ Corner and requires annual maintenance to ensure safe travelling conditions for local communities and tourist groups.
Each year, different sections of the road are repaired as part of an ongoing commitment to keep the Kokoda Track accessible for trekkers and the local community.
The recent works follow an Australian government-supported upgrade of the nearby Vesulogo Bridge to prepare for tourism once the Kokoda Track reopens.
The Kokoda Initiative is a partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia to enhance the quality of life for communities along the track, protect the environment and cultural values, and keep the track open and well managed.
(Works engaged local people, providing vital employment opportunities while tourism is on hold)