Calls for urgent action to transfer the management of flood-damaged Kalumburu access roads to the State Government appear to have fallen on deaf ears, with both the Transport Minister and Main Roads WA urging the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley to follow official channels.
Late last month the Shire wrote to cabinet ministers requesting meetings to discuss handing over responsibility for Kalumburu and Warrener roads to Main Roads WA.
Maintenance of the two roads costs the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley more than $200,000 every year.
Previously, a large proportion of that money came from general purpose grants funded by the Federal Government, but that funding has been cut by $400,000 this financial year.
The council has estimated it needs between $15 and $30 million for a good gravel road from the Gibb River Road to the Port Warrender Road turn off, and between $25 and $35 million for the turn off to Kalumburu.
Shire president John Moulden said the roads should be managed by Main Roads WA because their purpose was to support State and Federal interests in tourism, indigenous land trusts and mining. “The consequence of funding cuts will see council struggle to maintain the road unless local ratepayers further subsidise it,” he said.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell has referred the Shire’s request to Main Roads WA, which said the council should follow the formal process to have a road under their control transferred to the State.
“This process was undertaken in 2008 and the road did not meet the criteria for re-classification to a main road at that time,” a Main Roads spokeswoman said. “Main Roads would be happy to provide any advice or assistance required with the formal road reclassification application, or other options to improve the road.”
Shire chief executive officer Gary Gaffney said this week the Shire would reapply.“If unsuccessful, we will continue to lobby for appropriate maintenance funding for the road
which is being used by increased tourist traffic,” he said.