The main access road into the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands from the Stuart Highway (Chandler) to Pukatja (Ernabella) is currently used by more than 60% of the total APY population. Providing access to health, education and training services, allows for the delivery of food and medical supplies and the export of livestock and feral camels.
Traffic volumes between the Stuart Highway and Pukatja range from 80 to 100 vehicles per day (based on traffic count conducted in 2013).
Infrastructure Australia invited a submission from the South Australian State Government for infrastructure projects in remote indigenous communities. The current road is highly corrugated and below the natural surface. As a result, it frequently floods rendering it impassable at various times of the year, increasing costs of service delivery to the Australian Government and South Australian State Government, damages vehicles and goods going into and from the APY Lands, and contributes to the high rate of vehicle accidents in the region. Maintaining the road through grading currently costs $1.5 million per year.
The need for road upgrades has been formally identified through the Community Structure Plans for nine (9) major APY communities, and the APY Road Network Study undertaken in 2006 and 2008.
Effects of the poor road quality include:
- Australian Government and South Australian State Government costs associated with service delivery are disproportionately high compared to other remote communities
- Additional maintenance costs to all vehicles using the road, associated with damage caused to suspension, differentials, tyres and the vehicle’s body
- Damage to transportable buildings being brought into the Lands as part of infrastructure upgrades of housing, school and health facilities
- A high rate of road accidents, particularly roll-overs
- Food is damaged and soiled during transport to community stores
- 40 km/h road limit for freight increasing transport costs and time
- Corrugations injuring and reducing the value of livestock during transportation
- Difficulty providing emergency health care, including through inability to access airstrips during road flooding and road corrugation causing intravenous drips to fall out of patients in ambulances
- Environmental effects, including soil degradation and damage to vegetation
In addition to ameliorating these effects, an improved road surface will provide many social and economic benefits, including:
- Improved access to services in nearby communities
- Improved security of food supplies
- Increased access to markets for exports, for example arts and crafts
- Improved emergency management through improved accessibility in poor weather
- Improved access to training and employment opportunities
- Improved living standards as a result of enhanced service access
- Additional community interaction and social exchange
The project addresses Infrastructure Australia’s objectives to increase the economic standard of living for Australians and to improve social outcomes, quality of life and reduced social disadvantage in cities and regions. It also addresses Infrastructure Australia’s identified themes for action in providing essential services for indigenous communities. The project also demonstrates alignment with the Nation Building 2 Cornerstones and National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 of the Australian Government.
The Australian Government is contributing $113.42 million towards the $141.78 million project with the remaining $28.36 million being provided by the South Australian Government.