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Port Moresby Sewerage Systems Upgrading Project

Improving hygiene and sanitation in the capital city

Monday, 10th December, 2018 – Port Moresby: Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is the largest city in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua on the south-western coast of the Papuan Peninsula.

The famous Motuan coastline runs on either sides of the metropolis, touching its waterfront at the centre. The marine habitats here include lush mangrove systems, pristine coral reefs, seagrass beds and sandy substrates. However, global warming is already having its toll on the beautiful marine environment like in any part of the country and the world around – effects such as rising sea levels and increase in salinity in wells used for fresh drinking water sources. Apart from these causes to the slow but gradual deteriorating state to natural habitats of this once lush marine environment, there’s also the effects brought on by human activity.

Like any metropolitan city in developing countries around the world today, Port Moresby has witnessed rapid population growth in the past couple of years brought on by an influx of rural to urban migration and an increase in socio-economic activities. The city now has a population of over 400, 000.

Much of the existing infrastructure have not been built to accommodate such pressures – a notable one being the existing sewerage system where substantial increase to the volume of untreated effluent was being discharged into the sea via multiple outflows. This has put an added strain on the marine life and its habitat.

To address the issue, the Government of PNG with assistance from its Japanese counterpart, have entered into an arrangement to rehabilitate the existing infrastructure through the Port Moresby Sewerage Systems Upgrading Project (POMSSUP).

POMSSUP Project Map

The project’s targeted areas are located along the capital city’s waterfront stretch, which is partially surrounded by lush coral reefs. The marine ecosystem here has been a lifeline for the local communities that rely heavily on fisheries. Previously, the structure of the sewerage system was adequate enough with the burgeoning needs of a growing city – the result being an accelerated degradation of the sea environment, elevated health risks for the local residents and a negative impact to the volume of coastal fishing and tourism activities.

The project will remedy this by intercepting, rerouting, treating and disposing of sewage waste past the coral reefs, and expanding the service area of the existing sewer system.

POMSSUP is one of the many development ventures that attest to the vibrant bilateral relations shared between the Governments of PNG and Japan – one that spans over 40 years. This particular project has allowed for much needed development and rehabilitation to the existing sewer system which covers the southern catchment area of the metropolis from Konedobu right through to Kilakila and the Joyce Bay area where a modern sewage treatment plant has been stationed. The plant is deemed the largest in the South Pacific, built to international standards and has a treatment capacity of up to 18, 400 cubic metres per day with potential to increase should  the need arise. The sewerage network spans 26km across the city’s waterfront and comprises 13 pumping stations.

The project has been implemented by Kumul Consolidated Holdings on behalf of the PNG Government. It is jointly funded by the Government of Japan through its international development partner agency, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Papua New Guinea at a total cost of K410 million.

The multimillion kina project will have a long term positive imprint on the marine ecosystem – one that is heavily relied on for fisheries along the city’s southern catchment area and the low lying villages of the Motuan coastline; with further protection guaranteed for generations to come. It will also increase potential for tourism and recreational activities in area. This project is testament to governments’ cooperating to tackle substantial environmental impact issues, and succeeding .

Construction of the wastewater treatment facility at Joyce Bay commenced in April 2016. It is now fully functional and awaits commissioning.