From Nothing to Something… Creating a Road Maintenance Culture in Tonga
Schlotjes, Megan R.
Bennett, Christopher R.
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The Kingdom of Tonga is a small island country in the South Pacific, located some 1,500 km north-east of New Zealand. The road network, approximately 870 km consisting of about 640 km of public roads, is almost exclusively low volume roads, with only a few urban roads in the capital Nuku'alofa carrying over 1,000 vehicles per day. Over 90 % of the public roads are sealed. Due to a variety of structural and fiscal issues, road maintenance - both routine and periodic - effectively halted in the late 2000's. The Ministry of Works, nominally responsible for the maintenance of the road network, did not have the resources or equipment to maintain the roads so for about a decade there was effectively no routine or periodic maintenance. In 2010 the Government of Australia provided funds to Tonga through the World Bank with the objective of establishing a routine and periodic maintenance program, with a secondary objective of stimulating the economy by creating employment through road works. This paper describes the success story of how Tonga went from having no regular road maintenance, indeed, not even contractors to undertake road maintenance, to having a competitive road maintenance industry undertaking routine and periodic maintenance across the country.