Speech by the MPWTC Director General Sr. Jose Piedade at the Launch of Roads for Development (R4D) Programme Phase II of Timor-Leste

Statement | Same, Manufahi District, Timor-Leste | 23 March 2017
  • Your Excellency Sr Gastao de Sousa, Minster of Public Works, Transport and Communications,
  • Your Excellency Mr. Peter Dolye, Australian Ambassador to Timor Leste,
  • Ms. Michiko Miyamoto, ILO Director for Indonesia and Timor Leste
  • Municipal Administrators,
  • Director of the National Directorate of Roads, Bridges and Flood Control of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications
  • Representatives of Timor Leste Employers and Workers’ organizations,
  • Members of the ILO Technical Assistance team for R4D
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you all for honouring our invitation to participate in the official launch of the second phase of the Roads for Development Programme – R4D – and the inauguration of the Same - Grotu road, which was rehabilitated under the first phase of R4D.

Let me first give you a brief overview report about the first phase of R4D.

As you may be aware, R4D is the Government’s key national Program in the rural roads sector. It seeks to support the development and management of the rural roads network in Timor-Leste, using labour-based approaches and technologies where appropriate.

The first phase of R4D started on the first of March 2012 and ends on 31 March 2017. The Government of Australia is financially supporting the Programme and the International Labour Organization provides technical assistance.

During the first phase of R4D the Government of Australia contributed 36 million Australian Dollars for technical assistance and capital investments. The Government of Timor-Leste contributed US Dollar 23 million for capital investments and provided staffing inputs and related budgets to cover operational costs.

R4D’s overall goal is that women and men in rural Timor-Leste are deriving social and economic benefits from improved road access

Immediate objectives of R4D are not limited to the rehabilitation and maintenance of the rural road network in Timor-Leste. Equally important is the objective of capacity building, both within the public sector as well as among local contractors. Another important aspect of R4D is its role in providing strategic direction and advice to the Government regarding the development of the rural roads sector and associated capacity development requirements.

Let me give you an abstract of the most prominent achievements of R4D to-date:
  • 138 km of rural roads have been rehabilitated to all-weather standards;
  • 400 km of rural roads are being maintained, using trained Community Maintenance Groups (CMGs);
  • A 5-year (2016 - 2020) Rural Roads Master Plan and Investment Strategy has been developed to guide the planning and prioritization of rural roads in Timor Leste, which has been approved by the Council of Minister in May 2016;
  • Soils and Materials Testing Equipment sets were procured and five operational laboratories were established in Liquica, Baucau, Maliana, Same, and Oecusse (not operational). These laboratories are used to test and ensure quality control on R4D projects. The laboratories are also used for training of DRBFC officials and would be used by the municipalities;
  • Strategies, Studies, Systems, and Standards have been developed for Planning & Budgeting, Design & Cost-Estimation Tendering & Contracting, Works Implementation and Quality Control, Contract Management, Monitoring & Evaluation;
  • 882 technical and managerial staff of contractors, and 345 government officials have received training in planning, procurement, and implementation management of rural roads rehabilitation and maintenance using labour based methods;
  • 611,000 worker-days of employment have been created in the project areas of the Municipalities with approximately 25% being women.
Impact studies conducted by R4D showed the very significant positive impact of improved rural roads access on the livelihoods condition of the rural people of Timor-Leste in terms of economic and social development.

These include an increase in local economic activities and local job opportunities, improved access to agricultural land, markets, schools, health clinics and other government services. The improved road access also lead to increased mobility of the local population, considerable time-savings in travelling and reduced costs of transportation.

Whereas we are proud of the achievements made to-date, much work still needs to be done. This not only relates to the physical works, but also to the need to further streamline planning – and delivery mechanisms and procedures, to ensure an optimum return to the investments. Furthermore, as we all realize that capacity building is a long term process, much more work needs to be done in this area.

During the second phase of R4D – which is scheduled for a period of 4 years – the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications will take on a clear responsibility for the planning and delivery of capital investment for the improvement and maintenance of the rural roads in the country.

The ILO technical assistance to the Government’ R4D Programme will be called the R4D Support Programme – in short R4D-SP. The Government of Australia will continue to finance this technical assistance component.

During the second phase, the emphasis of the R4D-SP technical assistance will shift from ‘demonstrating’ the benefits of improved rural road access, to ‘strengthening’ the capacity of MPWTC-DRBFC and Municipalities to manage the rural road network on a sustainable basis. Capacity development support to local contractors will be also be continued.

Under phase 2 of R4D, the Government of Timor-Leste will provide funding for capital investments and will cover related staffing and operational costs.

The Government of Australia’s financial contribution for the provision of technical assistance through the ILO will be 6.5 million Australian dollars per year. Half-way the second phase a review of the Programme’s progress and achievements will be made, and based on the outcome of this review, it will be decided whether the Programme will continue for a further 2 years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, R4D is a key programme for the Government of Timor-Leste in general and for the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications in particular.

The lessons learned from the first phase, as well as the evolving context in Timor-Leste, are well reflected in the design of the second phase of the Programme and I look forward to working together with all the concerned stakeholders on its implementation.

I wish to take this opportunity to express the Government’s sincere gratitude to the Government of Australia and the International Labour Organization for their continued and highly appreciated assistance to the development of Timor Leste.