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Old 05-06-2003, 12:39 AM
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Lae Chamber of Commerce & Industry - Expansion plans hiccup !

Main wharf, highway linked ot problem :

TO SAY that Lae Business houses are always optimistic looking for new opportunities would be true in the normal context but, this year, business has been hit by the a double blow.

The deteriorating infrastructure, especially the Lae Wharf and the Highlands Highway, has had a dampening effect on any business expansion plans.

Lae is the home of the country's major port, handling nearly two thirds of the imports and exports. Late last year we were informed that silt had decreased the depth at the wharf form 13.5 metres to 7.5 metres, and that some of the larger ships especially fuel tankers will soon be unable to berth at the wharf.

Necessary dredging was delayed because of shortage of funds, but will go ahead in the next few weeks. We hope this is successful and the wharf will remain opened to all of the larger vessels, required to facilitate the cargo to and from this large port.

It is a fact that most of the businesses in Lae, rely in some way on trade to the Highlands Provinces. A large percentage of manufactured products from Lae factories ends up in stores in the Highlands, transported by trucks on the Highlands (Okuk) Highway.

Coffee is returned to Lae in the trucks from where it is exported to foreign markets.

We have witnessed the Highway in serious trouble this year. Washouts, landsides, slips and other natural causes have occurred with regularity and actual road closures, have been the ultimate result on numerous occasions.

The bad condition of the road has caused security related incidents, which are an increasing concern to business. Incidents of illegal road- blocks and threats to drivers, vehicles and their cargoes, and claims for compensation, have become commonplace and pose risks that are unacceptable and add unnecessary costs to businesses.

The Govemment has put together a funding package, with the help of Aid Agencies, the World and Asian Devel- opment Bank and the Tax Credit Scheme, which will see more money spent on the Highway this year, than ever before.

The problem is that the lack of funding in the past meant that the highway had deteriorated to such on extent, that more than just general maintenance is required to return it to a reasonable condition.

The security related concerns are ex-acerbated by the poor road conditions but the Government must also address the law and order problems so that businesses can transport products and produce with an assurity of safe passage for people, vehicles and goods.
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Old 05-06-2003, 12:42 AM
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The Government has just passed a bill, which will see the establishment of a National Road Authority. Business through representative bodies including the Lae Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Road Transport Authority are very supportive of the formation of the NRA, which will have the ability to collect funds, and develop a program to look after the maintenance requirements of not only the Highlands Highway but other National Highways as well.

Business in Lae is going through a very flat period at the moment, but is looking forward to a good coffee season, which as always stimulates industry in Lae.

If the roads give free access to the goods to and from the Highlands and if the wharf has unlimited access for all ships, then we can look forward to a reasonably good year.
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Old 05-06-2003, 12:57 AM
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We are ever mindful of the Government's push for an export driven economy, and more and more businesses in Lae are looking at ways to consolidate the export trade.

The Markham Valley, once named the food bowl of PNG, is slowly fulfilling some of its potential, with a push to develop the agriculture and liegestock sectors with exporters in mind.

Recent concentration by the National Government to develop the fishing sector has paid dividends for Lae, with the fledgling long line industry flourishing.

Plans to develop fish processing factories in Lae, will take advantage of the early success of the industry, and turn it into a major development for Morobe Province and Papua New Guinea.
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