DOT Logo

The roads in Papua New Guinea have developed around the provincial centres of population, many of which are on the coast and linked nationally by coastal shipping. Local road networks have been developed from these coastal centres, along the coastal plains and up river valleys and over mountain passes to penetrate inland. The Highlands Region is landlocked, with the main centres connected by air, and this spurred the development of the Highlands Highway, connecting the five inland provinces with the coast and PNG’s main port at Lae.

The public road network in PNG comprises declared national roads, the responsibility of national government and other sub-national roads, the responsibility of provincial and local level government. National roads are currently classified into national routes (NR), the main inter-provincial connecting routes, national main roads (NM), national district roads (ND) and national institutional roads (NI - access roads serving state institutions).

The road system has developed as a series of separated networks divided by the geographic barriers of the sea, rivers and mountainous terrain, each network based on one or more main centres of population.

The roads in Papua New Guinea have developed around the provincial centres of population, many of which are on the coast and linked nationally by coastal shipping. Local road networks have been developed from these coastal centres, along the coastal plains and up river valleys and over mountain passes to penetrate inland. The Highlands Region is landlocked, with the main centres connected by air, and this spurred the development of the Highlands Highway, connecting the five inland provinces with the coast and PNG’s main port at Lae.

The public road network in PNG comprises declared national roads, the responsibility of national government and other sub-national roads, the responsibility of provincial and local level government. National roads are currently classified into national routes (NR), the main inter-provincial connecting routes, national main roads (NM), national district roads (ND) and national institutional roads (NI - access roads serving state institutions).

The road system has developed as a series of separated networks divided by the geographic barriers of the sea, rivers and mountainous terrain, each network based on one or more main centres of population.

Highlands Highway Network

The largest network is the Highlands (Okuk) Highway, NR0007, which provides the backbone connector between the main port of Lae in Morobe Province and the five Highland Provinces, the end point being Mendi in Southern Highlands, and is fully sealed.

The Highlands Highway passes through Morobe Province, the road to the old goldfields area of Bulolo and Wau, now seeing a resurgence of mining, branching off southwest just outside Lae (NR0004). The Highway crosses the braided floodplain of the Markham River and, at Waterais Junction, turns southwest over the Kassam Pass to Eastern Highlands Province, through Kainantu to Goroka in the Asaro River valley. From there the highway crosses another divide at Daulo Pass, through geologically unstable country, to reach Kundiawa in Simbu Province and the Waghi River Valley. The highway continues along the valley floor on flat to undulating terrain through to Mount Hagen. The Baiyer River Road branches north from Mount Hagen.

West of Hagen, the road divides at Togoba into the Enga Highway to the northwest to Wabag, while the Highlands Highway continues west to Mendi in Southern Highlands Province. Beyond Mendi, the highway connects to Tari and Koroba linking with the oil and gas fields; and beyond Wabag the highway connects through Laiagam to the Porgera gold mine.

In total, the Highlands Highway and its extensive network of feeder roads, serves 2.6 million people in the Highlands, or 38.5% of the country’s population (excluding Madang and Morobe). The road provides the export route to the coast for coffee from the Highlands and for produce grown in the cooler high country. It is also a key road link for supporting the development and operation of several mining ventures and the oil and gas fields.

Madang Network

The Highlands Highway connects to Madang Province via the Ramu Highway, NR0008, from Waterais Junction, following the Ramu River Valley to Usino, then turning northeast through winding hilly terrain to the Nuru River valley and meeting the coastal plain close to Madang. Parts of this road over its central section remain unsealed and difficult in wet weather, so Madang and East Sepik Provinces still do not have a fully reliable road connection through to Lae.

The Coastal Highway, NR0009, runs northwest from Madang along the coastal margin as far as Awar, short of the Ramu River which act as a natural barrier. Inland from Madang, access roads connect along the Gogol and Sogeram Rivers and at various points along the coast as far as the Ramu River mouth and the East Sepik Border. South of Madang, a coastal road links through to Saidor on the Rai coast but is in poor condition.

Sepik Network

The Coastal Highway, NR0009, continues from Angoram on the north bank of the Sepik River, across the coastal plain to the provincial capital of Wewak. From Wewak the road continues along the coast to Aitape in Sandaun Province. Beyond Aitape access is poor and intermittent to Vanimo. From Vanimo the highway connects to the Indonesian border crossing at Wutung.

Inland from Wewak, the Sepik Highway starts at Passam Junction with the Coastal Highway and follows the northern edge of the floodplain of the Sepik River, linking to Maprik, Dreikikir and Lumi. The highway is sealed as far as Mai, just west of the East Sepik/Sandaun border where an access road leads south to Arkosame. At Hayfield junction an access road leads south to Pagwi on the Sepik River.

Central and Gulf Network

The Hiritano Highway, NR0001, runs northwest from Port Moresby along the coastal plain of Central and Gulf Provinces to Kerema. The road is sealed as far as Malalaua and work is underway to complete sealing to the Gulf Province capital of Kerema. Apart from forming an important connection for Gulf Province which is relatively isolated, the end of the Hiritano Highway marks the starting point for two proposed new strategic links, one to Kopi on the LNG pipeline route with a connection to the Southern Highlands via Samberigi and Erave, and the other the Trans-Island connection from Malalaua to the Lae-Wau road either directly via Wau or through Kaintiba and the Aseki road.

The Magi Highway, NR0002, runs southeast from Port Moresby along the coastal plain of Central Province via Kwikila to Kupiano, as far as Ganai. There is at present no road linking the 129 kms between Ganai in Central Province to Gadaisu in Milne Bay Province.

Milne Bay Network

The Magi Highway resumes at the provincial boundary with Milne Bay Province linking through to Alotau which is the focal point for the Milne bay road network. Access roads support the various plantation agriculture, mainly oil palm, and forestry to the west of Alotau, and access roads run to the end of the island at East Cape and across to the northern coast. There is no continuous road along the northern coast of Milne Bay, but a number of isolated lengths of track, including a track leading inland to Agaun which is intended for development as one of the “missing links”.

Oro Network

 This network radiates from the provincial capital, Popondetta. The Kokoda Highway, NM3601 links Popondetta to Kokoda, an important tourist destination. To the east from Popondetta the Northern Highway, NR0003, connects to Oro Bay port and along the coast, with an access road leading inland to Afore. In the north, access roads serve large oil palm plantations. Future links are proposed in the MTDP to connect the Oro network with Morobe and Lae in the north and Milne Bay and Central Provinces in the southeast and south.

Huon Peninsular

 The road network is focused on Finschhafen and extends south along the coast to Busiga, north along the coast to Gitua, and inland to Pindiu. A separate road links Wasu on the north coast with Kabwum and Konge in the interior. There are prospective road links along the south coast to Lae and along the north coast to Saidor and Madang.

South Fly Network

 A network of local roads, in varying states of repair, link villages in the South Fly district of Western province. The main link is the Trans-Fly road running east-west between the Indonesian border west of Weam, and linking Morehead, Wipim and Oriomo, with another road leading south to the river at Bensbach. Bensbach, Morehead and Oriomo are on navigable rivers. New links are proposed running north to Aiambak and Kiunga.

Kiunga to Tabubil Network

 In the North Fly district of Western Province, the Tabubil Highway, NM3101, runs north from the river port of Kiunga to the Ok Tedi mine site via Ningerum and Tabubil. The road was built for the mine development and is maintained by OTML. Access roads from the highway serve local communities. A new link is proposed as a continuation east of the road between Kiunga and Nomad to connect with Southern Highlands Province.

New Britain Network

 The New Britain Highway, NR0010, runs along the north coast of West and East New Britain. There is a continuous link between the WNB provincial capital of Kimbe via Bialla as far as Ulamona, with a spur road to Hoskins Airport. Eastwards the route is incomplete through Open Bay and is based on lengths of logging road, with two missing sections. From Gaulim in ENB the road is constructed to sealed standard through to Rabaul and Kokopo. West of Kimbe there is a sealed road leading north to Talasea. There are further disconnected road sections radiating from coastal landing points at Silavuti/Wuhu, Lauvore, and Cape Gloucester. The missing sections of the New Britain Highway are relatively short and technically feasible to construct.

There is a dense network of roads at the eastern tip of New Britain focused on Rabaul and along the north coast to Lassul Bay and down the east coast to Merai. Along the south coast of New Britain, there are a number of isolated coastal road sections centred on Tol, Pomio and Jacquinot Bay. The MTDP proposes a south coast route linking these to Kokopo and Rabaul.

From Jacquinot Bay there is a large gap with no existing road to the boundary with WNB. A cross-island road at this point links Fullerborn and Gasmata with Kimbe. Then there are further breaks westwards along the south coast to Kandrian and Cape Gloucester, but these are relatively short.

Many of the isolated road networks on New Britain have been developed for logging and oil palm plantation development and need extensive upgrading to reach a desirable national highway standard.

New Ireland Network

 New Ireland is a long and narrow island province, including smaller offshore islands of Lavongai, Mussau and Emirau to the north and several island groups to the east, including Lihir. The Boluminski Highway, NM4701, runs along the coastal plain on the east side of the main island from the provincial capital of Kavieng in the north as a sealed road to the district centre of Namatanai and continuing as a gravel road almost to the southern tip of the island. There are cross links to the west coast at intervals and the West Coast Road which runs along the northern half of the island. Relatively flat terrain, few watercourses and coral gravel make road construction relatively less costly on New Ireland than most other parts of PNG.

Bougainville Network

 The main route on Bougainville, the Buka Road NM5001, links the centre of Arawa and neighbouring town Kieta with Buka Passage and Buka Island along the east coast. The road crosses many rivers included braided shifting watercourses and links cocoa and coconut plantations and smallholdings. Spur roads lead inland along river valleys, the longest being inland from Wakunai. Buka Island is flat and has a network of coral gravel roads.

South from Kieta and the currently disused Aropa Airport, a coast road leads around the south of Bougainville to the district centre of Buin and on to Boku and across the island via the Jaba River Valley and the closed Panguna copper mine site to join the Buka Road at Tunuru near Arawa. Down the western side of Bougainville the terrain is more difficult and a road links to Kunua and towards Koripobi, regarded as a missing link through to Torokina to join with the cross island road in the vicinity of Kono.

Manus Network

 Manus island has a developed road network on the east side of the island centred on Lorengau, linking in the east to Lombrum naval base and Momote Airport and inland via the East-West Road, NM4604, to Mundrau and then to the north coast at Bundralis. There are plans to extend this road to Sali’in at the west tip of the island.