Civil engineering firm Curtain Bros has big plans for Motukea Island, as it prepares to build new dockside facilities alongside the soon-to-be relocated Port Moresby Port. CEO Justin McGann outlines the Motukea plans and other new company projects to Business Advantage PNG.

Curtain Bros planning huge, new dockside facilities at Motukea Island


Civil engineering firm Curtain Bros has big plans for Motukea Island, as it prepares to build new dockside facilities alongside the soon-to-be relocated Port Moresby Port. General Manager Justin McGann outlines the Motukea plans, and other new company projects, to Business Advantage PNG.

Curtain Bros General Manager Justin McGann

Curtain Bros General Manager Justin McGann

Motukea Island in Fairfax Harbour, just 11 km north-west of Port Moresby, is the PNG home of the Curtain Group and activities on the island include shipping, wharfage, ship repair and a range of building and civil engineering activities.

One of its larger operations is Papua New Guinea Dockyard which has been operating since 1999, repairing a wide range of vessels up to 110 metres in length and weighing up to 4000 tonnes.

‘The vessels are lifted by a wedge car system and when clear of the water are transferred to various holding bays where up to seven 100 metre ships, or multiples of that number in smaller vessels, can be accommodated for repairs,’ says Curtain Bros General Manager, Justin McGann.

‘The shipyard has also constructed quite a number of ‘new build’ barges up to 1000 tonnes capacity.

‘With the shipyard settled into a steady routine, the company has decided to expand into larger ship repair by building a very large dry dock.

‘It will be 300 metres length, with a door width of 44 metres, and a sill depth of 10 metres at mid tide.

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An example of a Panamax-sized ship

An example of a Panamax-sized ship

‘This facility will be able to accommodate vessels up to some 100,000 DWT capacity.

‘We’ll have our dry dock for Panamax repairs, and we’ll have our shipyard where we want to build new ships. For example, we’d like to build defence force ships for PNG.’

Port expansion

The company has almost completed a deal to sell the wharf for about K725 million including the transfer of some 60 hectares of land to PNG Ports Corporation (PNGPC).

‘Letters of Intent have been exchanged, with the sale expected to be completed early in 2015,’ says McGann.

‘After completion of the sale, negotiations are expected to cover the construction of extra facilities to allow PNGPC to move the entire Port Moresby operation of PNG Ports to Motukea.’

Expansion plans include building various facilities for port-related operations, including an examination scanning facility already underway for PNG Customs.

Port Moresby

In the capital, Curtain Bros has been developing Harbour City, and a number of commercial and residential buildings, with plans for more.

Harbour City development in Port Moresby

Harbour City development in Port Moresby

It is also involved in building a venue and facilities for the 2015 Pacific Games.

‘We’re currently building the 20,000-seat Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, in downtown Port Moresby.

‘We’re also linking Ela Beach around Paga Hill back into the esplanade via a four-lane road.’

Mining and roads

Curtain Bros was involved in helping develop the now government-owned Ok Tedi copper Mine in the mid-1980s.

These days, its involvement in Ok Tedi is limited to pit services work and maintaining the main road between Kiunga and Tabubil.

‘We’re also doing the Kiunga sewerage project and we’re building a road from Aiambak to Lake Murray in the Western Province, to the east of the Fly River.

‘That is an interesting project because there’s no gravel in the Western Province, so we have to ship gravel in from Port Moresby, up into Aiambak, and then cart it to build the road,’ says McGann.

The challenging Aiambak to Lake Murray road construction

The challenging Aiambak to Lake Murray road construction

‘We’re also building a pilot road from Lake Murray to Kiunga to come in on the south side of Kiunga to try and drought-proof the towns and mining operations of Kiunga and Tabubil for the periods when the river levels go low and ships can’t come up.

‘When the river goes dry, which happened in ’97, the mine shuts down, so they can’t afford to get into that situation.

‘Another interesting project we are working on is a pilot track from near Tabubil to Telefomin in the Sanduan Province.

‘This will be a challenge, as the route will have to cross the ‘Hindenberg Wall’ of the mountain range of the same name.’

Frieda River

As well as the Ok Tedi mine, Curtain Bros has also been involved with developing most of PNG’s major mines: Lihir, Porgera, Misima and Tolukuma.

It also has its eyes on the Frieda River gold-copper project, located on the border of the Sandaun and East Sepik provinces.

‘We’d be very keen to be involved with the new Frieda River Project because that’s in our neck of the woods, and some of the shareholders at our subsidiary company, Starwest, come from Sandaun Province.’



  1. Wellington Warren says

    Its good to see a PNG based company progress, the foresight shown by the company to develop the water front area of Port Moresby city is one of the best decisions ever made by the company, I believe it has brought in benefits to the company in threefold. Being a major player in construction in PNG poses alot of challenges which I’m sure CB can overcome. One such challenge is that with growth comes the need to maintain income flow and the temptation to take short cuts in terms of securing jobs especially now when there is a lot of competition from our neighbors down south as well as the big pockets from up north. CB has to maintain transparent approaches in their business to resist the temptation of short cuts as mentioned. All the best.

  2. Conrad Akope says

    Very good story of the progress and plans of the company. I come from Western Province and have witnessed the company growth from milking out funds from massive multimillion contacts. [edited]

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