MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $41.5 million loan to improve navigational aids in Papua New Guinea (PNG), allowing ships to more safely travel through PNG’s largely unchartered and often unsafe waters.
“The Maritime and Waterways Safety Project will upgrade the existing navigational aids network, reducing risks such as the blockage of channels, which cause serious injury, loss of life, and environmental damage,” said Xianbin Yao, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department. “The project will also establish a safe and efficient maritime transport environment for national, regional, and international traffic.”
Remote, rural populations are expected to be the main beneficiaries of the project, which will make maritime safety information more readily available and help develop maritime safety communities of practice. Regional and international maritime transport services will benefit as monitoring and surveillance systems are renovated and search and rescue capacity improved. More effective beacons or lighthouses are also expected to boost local and international shipping and trade.
The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) is responsible for maritime safety, search and rescue operations, and maritime environment issues in PNG. In 2008, the PNG Government, NMSA, and ADB through the PNG Government’s Rehabilitation of the Maritime Navigation Aids System Project helped improve the shipping service environment by improving navigational aids along mainly international shipping routes. The project established a community engagement program through which Provincial and Community Lighthouse Committees monitor and keep the navigational aids in good condition, boosting community ownership while providing income generating opportunities and encouraging the participation of women in the project.
“This project will have significant benefits for the 65% of PNG’s people who live in coastal regions, through improved passenger and cargo services and easier access to health, education, and other services. It will also provide direct support to communities in cash and service by replicating the success of the previous project,” said Chris Rupen, NMSA General Manager.
NMSA is the executing agency for the project, which will finish in 2018.