Kumul Flyover, Port Moresby Hero

Kumul Flyover: a new PNG icon

Severe traffic bottlenecks along the 8-Mile and 9-Mile areas in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) are a thing of the past thanks to the Kookaburra Roading and Flyover Project. This is the first large scale flyover in PNG and, indeed, in any Pacific Island country. It will provide a faster more efficient travel route from Jacksons International Airport into Port Moresby, in time for the country’s hosting of the 2015 Pacific Games and the APEC Leaders Forum in 2018.

Hawkins was awarded the design and construct contract in July 2013. We worked with our design consultant: Opus, local subcontractors and the local workforce to make the project a reality.

National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and the PNG Government’s goal:

  • To ease traffic congestion in areas of Port Moresby where a major building boom is taking place
  • To enable those landing at the airport to easily get from there to the Parliament without competing with local traffic
  • To complete this project in time for the Pacific Games in July 2015
  • To upskill local labour to a competitive workforce performing to international quality standards. 

What we did:

We delivered this project, which is fast becoming a PNG icon, in accordance with New Zealand Transport Agency and Austroad standards. And we did this:

  • In a ‘no go’ area which, when we started construction work had a market selling the local drug smack bang in the middle of our site.
  • With a health and safety record that would be enviable anywhere in the world – with no lost time injuries in 750,000 man hours.
  • By bringing in precast facilities for the on-site construction of pre-stress concrete Super T’s for the bridge in our yard in PNG – the first time these have been precast on the ground in a Pacific Nation. Because of this, there are at least 40 PNG locals who can work the pre-stress precast unit for future local bridges.
  • Ahead of programme – the project opened on Sunday 31 May 2015, 22 days ahead of programme. This was due to our Kiwi approach which featured a flat-management system and managers who got stuck in there. Our open plan office housed both expats and locals who were all treated equally. Because they felt on an equal-footing with the expats, the locals worked extremely hard and made sacrifices to ensure the project’s success.

We won the design and build contract in July 2013, with construction starting in January 2014. The project comprises a 600m long four-lane concrete flyover, just under 2.5km four lane road, side road tie-ins, roundabouts, drainage, footpaths, service relocations, lighting, and associated street furniture.

The flyover and carriageway is a vital conduit from the Jacksons Airport to Waigani, which supports many hotels, businesses, PNG Government departments and international Embassies.

Visually the design of the bridge reflects the PNG and Pasifika culture. It features the PNG stamp and a Pasifika mural.

The 600 metre structure required 48,000 tonnes of concrete, enough to fill 32 25-metre swimming pools.  It was built with energy-saving lighting and to withstand any earth tremors. 

In a little over 16 months we have delivered a major infrastructure project (built to last for the next 60 years provided it’s properly maintained) that would typically take 3 years to build. And we’ve done it in a challenging environment, working with subcontractors unused to such stringent quality standards. Our approach has resulted in the subcontractors delivering faster, safer, better quality products and services than the client would have obtained had they gone to the subcontractors directly.

This is being held up in PNG as a showcase for other construction and infrastructure projects.

 

Unique challenges:

  • The flyover passes over a ‘no go’ area of Port Moresby. At the start both the client and Hawkins struggled with site access and ability to work because there was a market (selling the local drug) in the middle of the site, plus a number of squatters. Our client had involved the police and a security company, which was having little effect. We decided to engage with the local community leaders and employ them as community liaison officers. They did a brilliant job in getting buy-in from the local community and shifting the market and squatters elsewhere. This allowed us to get on with the job without any issues from the local community.
  • Overcoming the lack of equipment and local knowledge needed to deliver a project to such stringent quality standards. For example, one subcontractor was unable to carry out test we needed to confirm the properties of materials that were due for installation so arrangements were made for a laboratory in Australia to perform them and confirm the materials were fit for purpose.
  • Overcoming the local’s perception of us and them. When we arrived they were used to working in environments where there’s one rule for the expats and another for them. We took a typically Kiwi approach of treating the locals as partners, sitting together in an open plan office and eating lunch together. We promoted from within, tested for alcohol every morning and removed anyone (expat or local) who tested positive. The whole team appreciated this ‘one team one standard’ approach and worked harder as a result.

The outcome:

PNG has a quality piece of roading infrastructure – a first for the country. It’s fast becoming an icon: something they can take a photo of and say “this is in PNG.” It’s a source of local, regional and National pride and, at a practical level, it has drastically reduced the congestion on a section where roads once merged with no lights and where people used to regularly spend 2-3 hours stuck in traffic. Now those coming in from the airport don’t need to disturb those on local journeys.