$59m to fix Timor’s notorious “Noodle Highway”

$59m to fix Timor’s notorious “Noodle Highway”

Deep mud on the road to Mount Ramelau (Image/Edward Cavanough)

DILI, 29 November 2019 (TATOLI) – The World Bank has approved almost US $60 million in new loans to upgrade a vital mountain road through Timor-Leste’s interior to one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, Mount Ramelau.

The bank said work on the 44.3km road corridor from Gleno, in the coffee-growing Ermera District, to the village of Hatubuilico in Ainaro is set to begin by September next year.

Macmillan Anyanwu, the Country Representative for Timor-Leste, says it’s the World Bank’s second major road project in the country.

“This investment will have positive impacts across many sectors, especially for tourism and coffee farmers, and is an important step towards raising productivity through improved connective infrastructure,” he said.

The investment follows $52 million in repairs to Tibar-Gleno section, funded by the Asian Development Bank and completed in 2016.

The roadworks would improve one of Timor’s most important highways (Image/Tatoli)

The windy mountain road is jokingly referred to as “Estrada Super Mie” or the “noodle highway”, because the repetitive hairpin bends resemble ramen noodles from the air. It’s one of Timor-Leste’s key arterial links between the north and south coast, but the road surface can deteriorate rapidly in the wet season.

The main street of Maubisse after heavy rain (Image/Edward Cavanough)

The bank said the first phase of the project would connect Gleno to Hatubuilico, the gateway to Timor’s highest peak, Mt Ramelau. The second phase would further connect the new section to the Dili-Ainaro corridor, “dramatically improving” road access for tourists, pilgrims and farmers, Mr Anyanwu said.

The project will be implemented by Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Public Works and financed with a US$59 million concessional credit from the World Bank. The Government of Timor-Leste will also contribute US $11.8 million. Work is expected to begin next September, and be completed by December, 2023.

Journalist: Robert Baird


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