PRIME Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday turned into reality a long yearning of the people of the North to have the Nabouwalu-Dreketi Highway tarsealed.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, the Prime Minister told chiefs, villagers and government officials the new road would open up opportunities.
"It will support the sugar industry, the mining industry, forestry operations, agriculture and tourism," he said.
"And it will also open up new opportunities, yet to be explored.
Commodore Bainimarama said the new road would reduce travel time and vehicle operating and maintenance costs.
"Truly the road ahead is paved with opportunity."
He said the project was by far the government's most ambitious undertaking.
"It represents a $228million, four-year long, development project that will provide a whole range of benefits for the North.
"In fact, it's hard to overstate just how massive an undertaking this is and how important it will be for the development of the North — for the Fijians living here, for the farmers here, for the businesses here, for those looking to invest here, and for a whole array of industries that operate or that can potentially operate from here."
Commodore Bainimarama said the upgrade of the 70 kilometre highway would greatly increase economic activity in the area.
"Just as important as the economic benefits is the difference, a proper sealed road will make in the daily lives of ordinary people whose welfare matters to me."