The delay of the sealing of the Tanami Road will have severe economic impacts on the Aboriginal communities who live along the stretch and the many industries that are set to benefit from the project, according to local leaders in the east Kimberley. The sealing of Tanami - which runs from Alice Springs to Halls Creek - was projected to be finished in 2030, but it emerged in senate estimates last week that completion could be 10 years away. The Commonwealth’s $434 million commitment is spread out over a decade, with Infrastructure Minister Catherine King’s office confirming the timeline and saying it would ensure a consistent stream of work for local construction crews and allow time for proper consultation with communities along the route. The project is set to bring major benefits to remote communities, making it easier and cheaper to transport goods from the east, opening up more tourism opportunities and providing an alternative route in the event of natural disasters. Shire of Harvey president Malcolm Edwards said the three-year extension would affect the Indigenous population who lived along the road and would impact the pastoral and mining industries. “There are 2000 Indigenous people who live down the Tanami road,” Cr Edwards said. “Especially for the people on our side of the border, the cost of delivery of services, job opportunities, the cost of living to those people; this road is going to be a dramatic improvement for them. “For the pastoral industry, it will give them access to southern markets with cattle. There’s some vacant land down there that, if developed, could carry 50,000 more head. “Then we have mining coming on board, they’re going to use 205 kilometres at the Tanami Road.” Cr Edwards said Halls Creek was closer to Adelaide than Perth, which meant the cost of freight would be reduced. “For example, a tin of baked beans that is canned in Victoria, it has to go all the way across to Perth and then it comes all the way out here,” he said. “Once it’s bitumised, people will say ‘why wasn’t it done years ago?’ Because the benefits are just huge.” In January, communities in the East Kimberley were cut off from southern WA by record-breaking floods that damaged the Fitzroy Crossing bridge. Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley deputy shire president Tony Chafer said the incident showed how urgently the sealing was needed. “If the Tanami Road had been done several years ago, we wouldn’t have been nearly as isolated,” Cr Chafer said. “Going down the Tanami, we’re closer by road to Adelaide than Perth from Kununurra. It would have been an excellent second option for us.” Cr Chafer said the floods should have prompted the Federal Government to bring the project back into the forward estimates.