Building on the Roots of PNG
As a developing country, infrastructure, road, seaport and airport expansion is key to the growth of businesses and the community across PNG. We speak to George Constantinou, Managing Director of Hebou Constructions PNG Limited, to learn more
Writer: Marcus Kääpä | Project Manager: Ryan Gray
“It is an exciting time to be working in civil construction sector in Papua New Guinea (PNG). There has been, and will continue to be, a wide range of projects being released by the public sector through various state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as well as through the oil and gas sector.”
For George Constantinou, Managing Director of Hebou Constructions PNG Limited (Hebou Constructions), the country is going through a period of development that spells promise for the foreseeable future of construction. Between civil construction and sector-specific projects, Hebou Constructions is operating at the centre of a unique growth space.
“These plans and projects range from short- and medium- to long-term time frames,” Constantinou goes on to say. “For example, the Connect PNG Road Program is a long-term plan designed to increase connectivity within PNG through upgrading existing road infrastructure and proposing new roads. The programme is nationwide and extensive, connecting the majority of the major centres within the country. As a developing nation, increased connectivity between provinces is incredibly important, and enables increased travel and trade for smaller business operators across the country.”
This is one example of the key role Hebou Constructions plays in the development of PNG on the whole. According to Constantinou, since the programme’s inception, many industry tenders have been released and a majority have been awarded to local civil contractors.
“The PNG Ports Corporation has recently introduced a 30-year plan to improve the facilities and connectivity of the existing seaports around the country,” he continues. “Upgrades to the Oro, Kimbe, Kaviang, Lae and Lorengau ports are part of the initial stage of the plan. Hebou Constructions is currently delivering reconstruction of the Motukea International Terminal hardstand container area, located in Port Moresby.
“The oil, gas and mining sector has taken a bit of a hit in recent years but seems to be turning around of late and looks promising for the medium to long term view. With the activity from Lihir, Ok tedi, Total-led Papua and Exxon-led P’nyang projects, PNG’s economy looks positive, especially for the construction sector, as there will be an overflow of work.”
50 YEARS IN PNG
Hebou Constructions is part of the Constantinou Group of Companies (Constantinou Group), a family business through which Hebou Constructions invests in, develops and operates a number of businesses around the South Pacific.
“We operate in several sectors including construction, hospitality and investment,” Constantinou explains. “Hebou Constructions is the oldest and longest-running group company with sustained performance over its 50-year history and is recognised as a tier one civil contractor in PNG. Hebou Constructions is the preferred contractor of numerous private and public entities, which demand projects be completed to the highest standards and within a pre-determined timeframe and budget.”
Hebou Constructions operates in Port Moresby and other areas of PNG and is proud of its history and reputation for quality. Hebou Constructions specialises in large-scale infrastructure projects from roads, highways and airports to marine ports and bulk earthworks. The management team’s key focus is the quality of the finished product, an attribute the client and end users can rely on.
“Quality is the key for Hebou Constructions, it is in our DNA; there is no point undertaking a project if you don’t do it right the first time,” Constantinou says. “In the long run it will either cost the company or the client much more time, effort and money if the correct processes are not followed when undertaking works.”
“Hebou Constructions is the oldest and longest-running group company with sustained performance over its 50-year history and is recognised as a tier one civil contractor in PNG”
The two most recent airport projects on which Hebou Constructions has worked are Jacksons International Airport (Port Moresby) and Nadzab Airport (Lae, Morobe), both being the largest and busiest airports in PNG. Hebou Constructions is currently delivering the latter for the National Airport Corporation (NAC).
The Nadzab Airport Reconstruction Project is a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded project and Hebou Constructions is subcontracted to the main contractor Dai Nippon Nippo Joint Venture. The project is a complete reconstruction of the airport and is primarily separated into two portions: building works and civil works.
“Hebou Constructions is undertaking the majority of the civil works portion for the project. The scope of Hebou Constructions’ role includes lengthening and widening the runway, upgrading taxiways and drainage works,” Constantinou tells us. “We are also undertaking landside works such as upgrading pathways, car parks and upgrading various vehicle access ways. The building work’s portion is delivered by another international building contractor who has a presence in PNG.
“In 2016, Hebou Constructions undertook the Port Moresby International Airport Asphalt Overlay Works Project. We were contracted directly to National Airports Corporation to complete the works. The purpose of the project was to improve the airport surface for the APEC Summit in 2018 in Port Moresby and to facilitate the forecast traffic volumes at the airport for the medium term. The project was delivered on time and within the allocated budget by our locally based team.”
On top of this, a successful project which Hebou Constructions undertook for National Capital District Commission (NCDC), was a reconstruction of the existing two-lane road and the upgrade of 3.6 kilometres of road to a four-lane highway. The project provided a critical link from Port Moresby to the northern provinces of PNG via the Hiritano Highway.
The reconstruction scope included: project design, demolition works, clearing and grubbing, earthworks, supply and installation of sub-base, base and asphalt materials, and relocation and/or the upgrading of all existing infrastructure such as water, sewerage, electricity, telecommunications, drainage and road furniture.
“Road projects are at the core of our competency levels therefore we completed the project on time, within budget and to the highest quality,” Constantinou says. “Our priorities for 2022 are to successfully deliver the two major projects (Nadzab Airport Reconstruction Project and Motukea International Terminal Reconstruction Project), as we do not want to take our eyes off existing projects to deliver.”
“Quality is the key for Hebou Constructions, it is in our DNA”
A COMMUNITY-CENTRIC COMPANY
Hebou Constructions aims to be the gold standard for PNG-owned and operated business. In light of this, the company works closely with several non-profit organisations and communities.
“Historically and currently, we have worked with the Sir Theo Foundation, Port Moresby General Hospital, Buk Bilong Pikinini and many locally based community projects and sporting teams,” Constantinou informs us. “Hebou Constructions was the first PNG contractor to work with NCDC to introduce a gender-based violence clause into the construction contract.
“We at Hebou Constructions, and the Constantinou Group overall, take this issue very seriously. We aim to ensure that our employees know and live by the example we are trying to uphold. Unfortunately, gender-based violence is widespread in PNG. Because of this, we - as employers - have a responsibility to communicate and enforce this message at the grassroots within the community.”
For Hebou Constructions, people and the community lay at the heart of business, and upskilling a locally acquired workforce is at the foundation of the company’s daily practice.
“We understand that hard-working Papua New Guineans are plentiful, and if given the opportunity, can provide considerable value,” Constantinou says. “We have noticed many international competitors bringing in project-based labour. Though this may be effective, it does not upskill or provide much back to the community for both short- and long-term benefits. Currently, over 93 percent of our staff are PNG nationals, and we would like to see more in upper management. We recently commenced a graduate programme and a mentorship programme which allows Papua New Guineans to progress up the organisational ladder.”
As a corporately responsible company, Hebou Constructions considers healthcare to be essential within PNG. Through the company’s affiliation with the Sir Theo Foundation, it has provided support to the Port Moresby General Hospital by assisting in numerous projects. These include the Port Moresby General Hospital car park upgrade and the installation of the Lady Maria Palliative Care Ward which opened in November 2020.
By aiding in this way, the hospital can focus on the better allocation of funds and services. Hebou Constructions also provides funding and support to the Six Mile Health Clinic in Port Moresby to assist with the operation of the facility, to the end of bettering healthcare for people across PNG.