BAD ROADS AFFECT TOURISM IN CHIMBU

“This is a National Site (Mt. Wilhelm) and deserves better funding for road upgrades from the National Government,Provincial Government as well as the Local Level Government”

Its 32 years now and Ms Betty Higgins the owner of Betty’s Lodge at the foot of Mt Wilhelm says nothing has changed in terms of road developments and upgrades.

She said she has being witnessing deteriorating roads worsen, landslide after landslide, parts of the timber bridge built by locals damaged at times.  

Ms Higgins said people come from all over the world, for vacation at the lodge and also to climb Mt Wilhelm.

Expatriates, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and other important tourists come to see and climb Mt Wilhelm.  

But roads that lead to the foot of Mt Wilhelm is no joy ride for tourists.  

“Sometimes I have to be strong when I stand in to protect my tourists especially when there is a road block by locals after they clean up a land slide or fix a loose part of the bridge”,said Ms Higgins .”

“Sometimes when the locals see that there are tourists on board, they demand K200-K400 fee before vehicles pass through”, she said.
“When I try to negotiate, I am cursed and my vehicle is stoned by locals.”

Ms Higgins said she is often embarrassed at times, by how locals react towards her in front of the tourists given the road conditions that tourists had to go through to reach the foot of Mt Wilhelm.

“This is a National Site and deserves better funding for road upgrades from the National Government,Provincial Government as well as the Local Level Government”, said Ms Higgins.

PNG Tourism Promotion Authority CEO Jerry Agus said the Kundiawa Gembogl District road is one of the most dangerous roads in the country however the National Government has allocated about K70m for the road upgrade in the district.

A contractor under the Asian Development Bank is upgrading the roads and is near completion.  

Mr Agus said all the roads should be sealed and fully upgraded before the end of this year and all tourism business should be running smoothly.

“Tourism Promotion Authority has being giving its support to Betty’s Lodge, by providing VFH-2 way radios and assisting in building the lodge,” Mr Agus said.

“deteriorating roads caused by weather is something we have no control over but with the upgrade of the roads,Kundiawa Gembogl District road will be better than it was decades ago”, Mr Agus said.  

By Kerebi DAVID
March 21, 2019