By PETER WARI of The National
The Hiri-Lai road connecting Hela and Southern Highlands is now open to the public.
This is one of the links opened by the Government to connect rural communities.
Simon Pipi, from Tupip village on the border of Southern Highlands and Hela, said the road had given hope to people like him living in the border areas.
He said many elderly people and pregnant women had died from curable diseases and childbirth complications as they could not access basic health services because there was no road to the nearest health facilities, especially the provincial hospitals.
Pipi said more than 50,000 people were now using the road and many from Hela were using it because of continuous road blocks, looting and harassment along the Nipa and Poroma section of the Highlands Highway.
“In the past, the only noises heard in the bushes were of animals and people. But today, people are able to watch vehicles pass through their villages,” he told The National. “We are just happy and thankful to the national government and the Hela government which had funded this 36km road.”
He said in the past, people wanting to go to Mendi or Tari woke up at 1am and walked miles using embers to light their way and reached the bus-stops by 7am.