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25 Feb, 2012

ADB Calls Bids to Upgrade Mt Hagen Airport in Papua New Guinea

The Asian Development Bank has invited bids for the construction of a new airport terminal building and associated works at Mt Hagen Airport, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. The deadline for bid submission is 9 April 2012.

The project is to be funded by an ADB loan for PNG’s Civil Aviation Development. The potential bidder should be from eligible source countries of ADB and shall demonstrate in their bid submission, their:

  • soundness of financial position over the last three (3) years and its prospective long-term profitability.
  • average annual construction turnover (minimum of US$9.6 million) calculated as total certified payments received for contracts in progress or completed, within the last three (3) years.
  • experience and participation in at least one (1) contract within the last ten (10) years, each with a value of at least US$8.32 million that have been successfully or are substantially completed and that are similar to the proposed works.
  • demonstrate access to, or availability of, financial resources such as liquid assets, unencumbered real assets, lines of credit, and other financial means, other than any contractual advance payments to meet the cash-flow requirement of US$2.0 million for the first three months.

Mount Hagen is the third largest city in Papua New Guinea and is located in the large fertile Wahgi Valley in central mainland Papua New Guinea, at an elevation of 1,677 m (5,502 ft). It has a total population of 27,782 inhabitants, the fourth highest (population based) in the country.

Papua New Guinea, which joined ADB in 1971, is the bank’s largest public sector borrower in the Pacific region. In August 2010, ADB and the PNG government agreed on a new country partnership strategy, “which aims to help PNG plan and implement a successful transition through the conversion of its natural resource wealth into inclusive economic growth.”

ADB’s support will focus on economic infrastructure, which is vital for better service provision and market access in rural areas, where 87% of the population lives. According to the ADB report, airports in Papua New Guinea are inadequate to meet the increasing demand for air travel both for tourism and commercial purposes.

Under the Civil Aviation Development and Investment Program, five major airports have been identified for upgrading to enhance their role as domestic hubs for tourism and economic development. In addition to Mt. Hagen Airport, the other four are Wewak Airport in East Sepik Province; Hoskins Airport in West New Britain Province;  Gurney Airport in Milne Bay Province and Jackson’s Domestic Airport in the National Capital District.

The latest bid proposal is to upgrade Mt. Hagen Airport to become a safety compliant regional international airport suitable for current F100 aircraft operations or equivalent and for the airport to expand its role as the major domestic hub to mainly serve the Highlands Region in the Country.

The main scope of works will be mainly the strengthening of the existing pavements and widening of the Runway Strip. A new Terminal Building on the site of the existing Terminal shall be constructed. Asphalt overlay on all strengthened aircraft movement areas shall be laid and grooving of the Main Runway and reinstatement of the pavement markings shall also be undertaken. The secondary runway shall also be upgraded top match the Main Runway.

An Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) of the project indicated that some issues may arise, especially in relation to the concerns that the people in the impact area may have. According to the IEE, among the major issues raised relevant to the proposed development are as follows:

1. Provision of proper toilets with ample water supply within the Airport waiting area for the use of people seeing off and picking up friends and relatives. The residents of the Pultimp village decry the absence of proper sanitation facilities within the airport facility for people seeing off or waiting for friends and relatives. The existing toilet facilities have been closed due to lack of proper water supply. Currently, people just relieve themselves in an adjacent vacant lot which is very unsanitary and unhealthy. Apparently water supply from the town does not reach the airport facility because of difference in elevation;

2. Construction of a market in the village. The villagers, especially the women folk requested that a marketplace be constructed in the area (vacant lot) near the airport where they currently sell their crafts and produce. The current marketplace is just a vacant lot with no roofing, water supply, and disposal system. The women are exposed to the elements and store their produce/crafts in the closed public toilets. The said vacant lot is neither state land nor private property. Land and labor could be provided by the village landowners and residents while the materials for the construction could be provided by the project.

3. Provision of employment and livelihood opportunities during the construction and operations phases of the project. The residents of the village reiterated that they should be given priority in employment in all phases of the project implementation. They also informed the team that labor for both construction and maintenance/operation stages are available in their community. The villagers agreed that the Councilors will be designated as negotiators.

4. Share in earnings of the airport. The villagers, especially the landowners, want a share of the earnings of the Airport as gratuity for the land that their forefathers gave for the development of the Airport.

5. Reduction/Subsidy/Special Rates for Plane Fares for landowners and residents of the surrounding villages. As a concession, the landowners and residents of the villages request that the airlines provide them with a reduced rate. Currently they have difficulty affording the high plane fares.

6. Cutting of trees that impeded the flight path of planes. Trees along the flight path but outside the Airport facility need to be cut because it is an obstacle and is a safety hazard. Apparently these trees have already been cut during the previous Airport Expansion but have grown again. These trees are necessary for the coffee plants because they provide needed shade for the coffee plants and are a source of construction materials for the houses of the villagers. The villagers were informed not to plant new ones. Compensation will be provided for the cutting of the trees.