ADB’s Papua New Guinea head reveals more details of the Highlands Highway upgrade


The Asian Development Bank will start redeveloping the entire Highlands Highway simultaneously rather than doing it in sections, according to David Hill, Country Director for the ADB. He outlined the ADB’s focus on improving both physical and digital connectivity in Papua New Guinea.

Remoteness in PNG makes physical and digital connectivity a challenge. Source: ADB

Speaking at the Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference in Brisbane, Hill said normally when funding is based progressively releasing a series of tranches—called a Multi-tranche Financing Facility (MFF)—road works are typically undertaken in sections.

But with the the Sustainable Highlands Highway project, which will cost US$1 billion (K3.32 billion) and run from 2017 to 2027, there will be an ‘innovation’, said Hill.

‘The Highlands Highway is in such bad shape the design was that we are going to work on the whole thing at one time.’

‘There are three civil works contracts and two consultancy contracts.’

‘This is our flagship infrastructure investment program for what is arguably PNG’s most important connectivity asset.

‘Another innovation is that the contractors who win the tenders for these contracts to construct the roads will also have to maintain the roads for five years after they have been completed.’

Story continues after advertisment...

The ADB’s David Hill Source: BAI


Hill said there are three civil works contracts and two consultancy contracts, which are close to being finalised.

‘One civil works contract is from Goroka to Lae; the other is from Goroka to Hagen.

‘And then we have a separate civil works contract for the Chimbu section, which is in really bad shape.’


Hill said that the ADB is looking to improve all aspects of connectivity in the country.

‘Nowadays, connectivity isn’t just physical, it is also virtual.

‘Instead of having to be present physically to hear a lecture, access knowledge in a library, conduct business negotiations, conclude a deal, make some exchange, people can now remain in relative physical isolation—provided they have access to electricity and the internet.’

‘Fifty per cent will go to the transport sector, 30 per cent will get to the energy sector.’

‘The topography of PNG is remote and needs to be connected.’


The ADB has three planning documents: an overarching corporate strategy over 10 years, a Country Partnership Strategy, the most recent of which runs to 2020, and a Country Operations Business Plan, which guides specific investments.

‘You must plan. If you don’t plan you don’t know what you are going to do.

‘Over the next three years, we have available for PNG approximately US$1 billion.

‘Fifty per cent will go to the transport sector, 30 per cent will get to the energy sector.

‘Fifteen per cent will go to public sector management and health, 3 per cent to water supply and sanitation and 2 per cent to finance.’

Hill added that the ADB is hoping to undertake a US$600 million project to upgrade many of PNG’s airports, including Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.

The intention is to lengthen the runways of several airports to allow Boeing 737s to land, he said.


  1. Walhos PALISA says

    What PNG needs is a world class high quality roads that will last for years (sustainable road design). A continuation of the Lae to Nadzab 4 – lane road along the whole length of the Highlands highway from Lae to Mt Hagen, and then to Kikori and Port Moresby would be more ideal. It is time Papua New Guineans start thinking big and construct highways that will last for generations to come. This will be realistic sustainable development. These are economic projects and would greatly enhance socio-economic development in the country in the long run. If the roads are built by loan money, the wealth created by these kinds of infrastructure should be able to repay itself.

Leave a Reply