SHIPS will soon travel more safely through Papua New Guinea's large uncharted waters after the government signed a loan agreement recently with the Asian Development Bank for a $US41.5million ($F73.25m) Maritime and Waterways Safety Project.
The project would help improve PNG's navigational aid network and reduce risks such as blockage of shipping channels. In a statement, ADB PNG Resident Mission country director Marcelo Minc said the reduction of risks could avoid causing serious injury, loss of life and environmental damage.
"The project will establish a safe and efficient maritime transport environment for national, regional and international shipping traffic," he said.
According to the bank, PNG relies heavily on its network of coastal shipping services considering more than 600 islands spanning a total sea area of more than 3.1 million square kilometres that make up the country's topography. "The reliance of coastal communities on shipping services is amplified by PNG's limited land-based transport network," ADB said.
"Around 65 per cent of PNG's population who live in coastal areas will be the main beneficiaries of the project which will deliver improved passenger and cargo services, provide better access to health, education and other services. The project will make safety information more readily available and maritime safety communities of practice will be established.
"Regional and international maritime transport services will benefit, as monitoring and surveillance systems are renovated, and search and rescue capacity improved."
The bank said local communities would also receive direct support through the existing community engagement program where provincial and community lighthouse committees would monitor and secure the condition of navigational aid.
"The involvement of local people in the project would boost community ownership and provide income generating opportunities. The participation of women would also be encouraged," ADB said.
Japanese Embassy first secretary in PNG, Yasuhiro Yamauchi witnessed the ceremony. ADB-administered Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction supported preparatory work for the project, the bank said.