Official Launch of Phase 2 of Roads for Development Program & Inauguration of the Same-Grotu Road, Manufahi Municipality

Speech by His Excellency Gastão Francisco de Sousa, Minister, Ministry of Public Works

Statement | Same, Manufahi District, Timor-Leste | 23 March 2017
  • Your Excellencies, Ministers of the Cabinet of the Government of Timor-Leste
  • Your Excellency Mr. Peter Dolye, Australian Ambassador to Timor Leste,
  • Ms. Michiko Miyamoto, ILO Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste
  • Secretary Generals, Director Generals, Directors and other staff of invited Ministries
  • Municipal Administrator of Manufahi Municipality and Administrators of other Municipalities
  • Suco and Aldeia Chiefs, and other representatives of Sucos and Aldeias along the Same-Grotu Road
  • Representatives of Development Partners and Donors
  • Representatives of Timor-Leste Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations
  • Representatives of Manufahi-based contractors
  • Members of the ILO Technical Assistance team for R4D
  • Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to be here with you today for the official launch of the second phase of the Roads for Development Program – R4D – and the inauguration of the Same-Grotu road which was rehabilitated during the first phase of R4D.

As you all know, good and all-year-round rural road access is a key condition for improving the livelihood conditions of the rural population of Timor-Leste. Opinion polls and surveys show that the rural people in Timor-Leste consider the improvement of rural roads to be one of the most important conditions for local economic and social development.

Without good rural roads access, agricultural, fisheries and tourism potentials cannot be developed and access by the local people to public and private services will remain unsatisfactory. This includes access to health facilities, education, markets, banking services and agricultural extension services.

For these reasons, the Government of Timor-Leste, in partnership with the Australian Government and the International Labour Organization, started R4D in March 2012.

Today, almost five years after the first phase of R4D started, I am very pleased to be here to celebrate together with you the success of the work done during the first phase and to officially launch the second phase of R4D.

For the Government of Timor-Leste R4D is a key national program. It is the Government’s main and leading programme in the rural roads sector. The importance of R4D is also reflected in the Programme of the Sixth Constitutional Programme of the Government, which explicitly mentions R4D as the key driver for the development of the rural roads sector in Timor-Leste.

The Government of Timor-Leste will remain committed to continue the development of the rural roads in the future as there is still much work to be done and we are very happy to continue our partnership during the second phase of R4D with the Government of Australia and the ILO.

We are also looking forward to continue our collaboration for the continued implementation of R4D with the rural people of Timor-Leste and other R4D stakeholders. Whereas considerable achievements have already been made, there is still much work to be done in terms of further strengthening capacities, in streamlining procedures, standards and specifications to ensure that optimum returns to investments can be achieved and in ensuring that effective coordination takes places at all levels between the concerned stakeholders. Furthermore, my Ministry will ensure that R4D will be adequately resourced and will be aligned with the Government’s on-going decentralization process.

As you may know, R4D is not only about the rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads. It is also about strengthening capacities within the public and private sector for the planning and delivery of investments in the rural roads sector that provides value for money. One of the special features of R4D is the use of labour-based approaches, where appropriate. This approach has demonstrated that – without compromising on the quality – employment opportunities for local people can be optimized, along with cash injections in the local economy through wage transfers.

Ensuring that improved roads are properly maintained is a key priority for the Government and has been, and will continue to be funded through R4D. Within R4D systems for maintenance have been developed and operationalized that involve local communities. Such systems, in particular those for routine maintenance, could also be considered for other categories of roads.

Apart from the physical works progress and the substantial progress already made in capacity building, one of the key achievements during the first phase of R4D has been the development of a Rural Roads Master Plan & Investment Strategy. This Master Plan has been approved by the Council of Ministers -and it will provide the main strategic direction for the rural roads planning, prioritization and implementation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, already much has been achieved by R4D but there is still a long way to go to achieve the important Government of Timor-Leste’s objective of providing good rural road access to the rural people of our country. During the second phase of the programme, the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications will have a leading role in the implementation of the Programme, with the ILO technical assistance team having a more supporting role.

Let me confirm herewith that the Government of Timor-Leste will remain committed to R4D as a key Government program and that I, as the Minister of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications, will continue to provide all the necessary support to ensure that R4D can be implemented in the future, in line with Government’s priorities for the rural roads sector.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Australia for the continued support to Timor-Leste’s development, the ILO for its technical assistance, and everybody else who has been involved in the first phase of R4D for their support. A special thanks goes to the rural people of Timor-Leste, without whose inputs and engagement R4D would not have been possible, and to the contractors who worked hard to ensure that works have been completed in accordance with the set quality standards.

Looking forward to a very constructive continued collaboration and partnership with all R4D’s stakeholders, I hereby declare the second Phase of R4D launched and would now like to invite H.E. the Australian Ambassador and the Director of the ILO to join me for the signing ceremony of the official launch of the second phase of R4D.