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Queensland company completes PNG bridges

A Queensland construction company has battled the harshest of terrains and conditions to deliver four new bridges in PNG’s Oro Province, bringing together communities that have been isolated for nearly a decade.
The bridges will also assist tourists making the pilgrimage to the iconic Kokoda track with access now opened up to a key starting point at Kokoda village.
Trekkers can now arrive and depart from the Popondetta Airport, which is on the coastal plain and far safer than the Kokoda wartime airstrip which is surrounded by high mountains.
In 2013, Canstruct Pty Ltd was appointed by the Papua New Guinea Department of Works to design and construct four new bridges to replace the ones destroyed by Cyclone Guba in 2007.
The Oro Bridges contract has been funded by the Australian Government, and its High Commissioner Bruce Davis and PNG Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion were on hand for the official opening at the Kumusi landmark in November.
“The Kumusi Bridge is truly a milestone achievement and an engineering spectacle that we are proud of and I say thank you to the contractors for a job well done. This bridge is a beacon of hope and a symbol of resilience for country,” Sir Leo said.
For the 176,000 locals, the new bridges will have a profound effect in how they travel across the region, both safely and effectively connecting them and businesses to the market, airport and port at Oro Bay.
Canstruct’s Founder Robin Murphy OAM says engineers and builders faced numerous challenges during the design and construction phase but none more so than the Kumusi River bridge which is now PNG’s longest dual lane bridge spanning 285 metres.
“We had to mitigate the effects of the mammoth river flow which came from the nearby Owen-Stanley Ranges as well as the tropical downpours and flash flooding during the wet season. The challenge of transporting materials to the remote sites was immense but we overcame these obstacles thanks to some creative thinking and persistence.”
The Kumusi bridge design consisted of four steel continuous girders with cast in situ concrete decks built above Q2000 year flood levels. More than 2,000 tonnes of high quality grade 350 steel was used in the construction of the bridges.
Flooding, which hit the province in February 2016 ,created a multitude of problems and despite the temporary Bailey Bridges at Girua and Kumusi washing away, the then incomplete bridges remained intact showing the high-quality design and construction undertaken by the private Brisbane-based company.
Mr Murphy said the $65 million project is a significant achievement and testament to the commitment and skill shown by Canstruct employees, its sub-contractors and the PNG’s Department of Works and the Australian Government’s Transport Sector Support Program.
“Up to 300 locals were employed on site during construction and for them to finally see the bridges being completed is a wonderful sight. Life on the province will hopefully dramatically change for the better.”
The other bridges built by Canstruct and now completed in Oro Province include a 150-metre bridge over Girua River, a 100-metre span across Ambogo River and a 66-metre bridge across Eroro River.
With palm oil the major industry of Oro Province, the bridges now provide the vital link between the plantations and export terminal.

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