Editorial comment – Roads matter

Vehicles use one side of the road along the Suva-Nausori corridor during road works last year. Picture: File

It is difficult to shrug aside the fact that roads matter a great deal for Fijians. We asked political parties for their opinions on the issue of the management and the construction and maintenance of our roads.

Questions were sent to all registered political parties.

The FijiFirst party and the Fiji United Freedom Party did not respond to the questions when this edition went to press yesterday. The parties that did respond agreed there should be better management of the construction and maintenance of our roads.

The National Federation Party, Social Democratic Liberal Party, Unity Fiji party and the Fiji Labour Party believe that despite the substantial increase in the allocation of government resources to improve roads, the standard of the country’s road infrastructure was in a poor state.

We asked them what their views were on the status of the country’s roads; and if elected into government, would they give attention to road infrastructure development.

We also asked them about the issue of traffic congestion and to discuss policies they hoped to introduce to address this issue if they formed the next government. Clearly the issue of traffic congestion is not limited to just the Suva to Nausori corridor. It is a reality in urban centres such as Lautoka, Nadi, and Labasa as well.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad believes traffic congestion has become a serious problem for our population. It effectively makes students late to school and workers lose out in wages.

Prof Prasad said the road network had not been upgraded enough to cater for an increase in traffic. SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka claimed there was a backlog in the maintenance and upgrading of almost all infrastructure facilities in the country.

Mr Rabuka insists the establishment of the Fiji Roads Authority was not well thought-out. He insists it hasn’t been able to undertake its core functions. Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narube believes the Government was losing the battle on maintaining our roads.

FLP parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh believes traffic congestion over the past few years has developed into a major issue for most of our urban centres.

Mr Ravindra-Singh believes the crux of the problem was that our roads have not kept pace with increased development and commercial activity. He also pointed a finger at the rise in number of private vehicles in the past 10 years.

As expected, the parties each had their own views about what issues were critical and they offered strategies to address them.

As we continue our countdown to the upcoming 2018 elections, such views are important.

They allow us to have a sense of appreciation of different views. At the end of the day though, we hope these views are relevant and will offer you a broad range of opinions on important issues.

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