Transport other than air includes buses, trucks and ships. There are no trains in Papua New Guinea.
Being an island nation, ships always have, and always will play a very important role in the transporting of goods and people from one place to another. Mostly they are small coasters of around 14 to 20 metres long with a few larger vessels.
Some areas are serviced on a 'tramp' basis but mostly a regular route is sailed with a loose but recognisable timetable.
Road transport is very much in its infancy owing to the lack of roads. Until recently it was virtually impossible to drive from one large centre to another. Only last decade did a road finally link Lae with Mount Hagen and later include Madang and the north coast as far as Bogia. A road now runs almost the entire length of Bougainville and New Britain has a patchy but useful network of roads. Port Moresby has been connected with areas to its north west and south east but as yet remains quite isolated from large towns on the other side of the mountain ridge which divides the mainland of Papua New Guinea.
It should be realised that the roads being discussed here are merely hard-packed dirt with one or two very narrow lanes along which only small trucks and buses can run and then very often only in the dry season.
As long as roads cannot run from island to island, the sea transport will always be required, but when roads at last interconnect all major mainland towns, probably half the present coastal shipping will be unnecessary.
On the subject of roads, it should not be thought that all roads are dirt; only those of considerable distance and therefore of limited use. All roads within major centres are bitumen sealed with some — like the Kieta-Panguna Road on Bougainville, being sealed all the way between the two centres.
While there are no large trucking or bus companies in the country, small buses run around all major centres and sometimes for some distance out and small trucks provide a delivery system within the limitations of the local road network. Big trucks and semi-trailers are mostly confined to the townships where that township justifies heavy equipment, or they will be found on large developments like the Bougainville Copper mines or palm oil development near Popondetta.
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