The notoriously bumpy road leading into Kalano Aboriginal Community is set to be repaired next year after more than six years of lobbying.
The CEO of Kalano Aboriginal Community Association, Graham Castine said he often hears complaints about the condition of McKeddie Road, from visitors and community members.
Large pot holes cover the bitumen from the turnoff at the Stuart Highway, but at the boundary line to Kalano a new road has recently been laid – there is a clear contrast.
“I want it upgraded,” Mr Castine said.
“The council owns the land and have agreed to upgrade it, which we are hoping will happen before the wet season really sets in.
“We have been fighting for more than six years for this to be fixed,” he said.
More reading: Kalano boss demands action over unclaimed road, 2014
Mr Castine said the road had been left to deteriorate largely because of complications over ownership status – but the issue was cleared up more than one year ago.
A Katherine Town Council spokeswoman said a number of issues surfaced after council partnered with the NT Government in June 2016 to find a solution to the problems faced by residents from the condition of Kalano Road.
“At that time, the NT Government agreed to provide funding to repair the condition of the road and Katherine Town Council (KTC) agreed to manage the road into the future,” the spokeswoman said.
“Native Title needed to be explored and after some deliberation, in March 2017, Northern Land Council lawyers advised KTC that from a Native Title perspective, there were no issues,” she said.
According to the Council spokeswoman, in January of this year, KTC was advised the government would not be funding the McKeddie Road fix– holding up repairs further.
However, despite not being responsible for the road, the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics, did agreed to perform some road maintenance to assist the residents.
In April, some government funding was re-allocated to the project, and according to the council, the project is back on track.
“A new survey was commissioned in the week of November 5,” a Katherine Town Council spokeswoman said.
“Once the surveyor’s report is received, the alignment decided and, if necessary, a new funding offer is made by the Northern Territory Government, we expect that the job will go to tender early in the new year, with a completion date by the end of March 2019.
“As a general note, Katherine Town Council wish to advise that they are attempting to achieve a suitable outcome for residents at Kalano and to resolve the ownership issues which have seen the road fall into its current state of repair,” she said.
Mr Castine said Kalano Aboriginal Community Association currently does not have funding to fix the road themselves.
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