Courier Mail Tuesday October 15, 2013 link
By Sophie Foster
A Queensland firm that landed $60 million in contracts in bridge building contracts between Papua New Guinea’s historic Kokoda track and the coast, hopes the structures honour soldiers who fought for the area.
Canstruct founder Robin Murphy – whose first job 47 years ago was in Papua New Guinea – said the new bridges were in areas that Australian soldiers had fought for.
“We’ve actually got a photo taken in 1942 that shows soldiers crossing this river. You can see it’s a bridge made on the hop,” said Mr Murphy, whose three sons now run the family business – Rory CEO, Adrian (Force 10 General Manager) and Dan (Canstruct General Manager).
“By this stage the Australians had forced the Japanese back from Kokoda, which is in the mountains, and this river – unfortunately for the Japanese – flooded right at the wrong moment and the Japanese general who controlled the Japanese forces for the whole of the Kokoda campaign was drowned in this river,” he said.
Mr Murphy, whose firm also had staff building refugees processing centres on Nauru, expected the project would create around 50 jobs.
“It is quite a big job”, he said. “Four bridges over some quite treacherous rivers. We’re talking about a river wider than the Brisbane River. Generally there’s a huge amount of water going through, but when the floods come, they rush down at an enormous rate and bowl everything over.”
Canstruct’s brief is to design and construct the four new bridges in the Oro Province for the PNG government.
Troubled waters: One of the makeshift bridges in WWII. Photo from the Australian War Memorial