By ERWIN CHLANDA
Fixing up the Nirripy road alone will cost the Central Desert Regional Council $3m and it estimates at $5m the total cost to repair its 1700 km connecting roads damaged by recent rains.
Says president Adrian Dixon: “Council’s existing budget will not come close to covering what is needed to reinstate these roads.”
Director of Works Glenn Marshall says it is completely unclear where the $5m needed will come from.
The council gets $1.7m over five years from the Federal Roads to Recovery program and that money is fully allocated for routine work.
The same applies to the annual $500,000 in Federal Assistance Grants.
“These were massive floods,” says Mr Marshall. “We don’t have the dollars for the repairs.”
The council is now applying the the NT Treasury for funds, and it is not yet clear whether any money will be allocated, and if so, how much.
“We are in an extremely difficult situation,” says Mr Marshall. “Supplies for the Nirripi store and fuel need to be transported.
“So far the Yuendumu grader has opened up a track as a temporary solution, grading loose sand and filling in some of the worst areas.”
To do a proper job it would be necessary to bring in gravel and water, a roller, a couple of graders.
The problem is, in 2008 the council inherited a “flat bladed” track and road network without a crown and no formation get rain water off the road. These tracks are at or below ground level, and just turn into rivers in heavy rain.
“It would take $12m to bring it up to standard. We don’t have a cent of that,” says Mr Marshall.
The Nyirripi Road is now open, but people wishing to use this road are warned to exercise extreme caution, says Mr Dixon.
There is also damage to the main access roads to Engawala and Nturiya and to virtually all secondary roads.