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Declared Ports

PNG Ports Corporation is the agency delegated with the responsibility for maintenance and development of the government-owned port facilities and for the general management of activities within the defined port limits of the declared ports under the Harbours Act.

There are 22 declared ports, of which 16 are operated by PNG Ports Corporation, either directly or through agents (Aitape and Samarai). There are four ports under PNG Ports that are not currently operational - Kerema, Kinim (Karkar Island, Madang Province), Siassi (Morobe Province) and Kupiano (Central province). The ports of Lihir (New Ireland) and Misima (Milne Bay) are also declared ports under the Harbours Act but are developed and operated by the mining industry

There are also leased and privately owned port facilities within the declared ports. 

The port facilities fall into four general types (a) marginal quay face backed directly by open storage area for container stacking and other open storage, that allows maximum access to shipside (b) marginal wharf structures connected to land by two or more bridging spans to allow for flow circulation (c) wharf structures in T-head formation connected to land by access trestles and/or causeway, with berthage on both sides of the wharf (d) finger wharves, with berthage on both sides (e) for tankers, short T-head structures supplemented with mooring dolphins and discharge pipeline.

Port Moresby, Lae, Kimbe, Rabaul, Oro Bay and Madang have port facilities able to accommodate vessels exceeding 150m length and drawing up to 10m.

Other Ports & Landings

Other than the declared ports, there are a number of private port facilities on the PNG coast, mainly established to support specific industries, such as mining, oil palm and logging. Important privately operated ports include Kiunga (Ok Tedi Mining Limited), Bialla (Hargy Oil Palm), Basamuk (Ramu Nickel), Lihir (gold mining) and several forestry ventures.

There are a large number of minor port facilities, including small wharves, jetties, ramps and landings. Many of these are in poor condition and a number of ports of call that have been used in the past have become disused for various reasons. Historically, over 500 locations were recognised as places where cargo was collected or discharge in analysis of sea freight movements carried out by the DOT.

The Community Water Transport Project (CWTP) and the associated programme of rehabilitation and reconstruction of small jetties has identified about 120 minor ports of call on the PNG coast and navigable rivers and the provinces’ development plans identify a similar number. The CWTP has also put in place franchise routes for subsidised shipping services and has other routes planned. The National Economic and Fiscal Commission in its fieldwork to support the review of the Transport Infrastructure Maintenance Grant has also identified boat routes in use. A number of the ports of call for the CWTP franchise routes are prospective locations and likely to be amended following investigation. Ports with a non-transport function, such as military bases (e.g. Lombrum), are excluded. There are also some small jetty facilities proposed at or adjacent to the main ports.

Inland River Transport

There are two major river systems that allow access to ships of up to 3 metres draft more than 500km from the mouths, the Fly River system in Western province and the Sepik River in East Sepik and Sandaun (West Sepik) Provinces. These river systems at once provide river access but also present a substantial physical barrier to development of the road network.

Other navigable waterways with river ports are Western Province - Bensbach, Mai Kussa, Morehead, Oriomo and Aramia Rivers; Gulf Province - Turama, Kikori, Era, Pie and Vailala Rivers; and Madang Province - Ramu River.