THE department of fisheries has inspected the cofferdams built under bridges along the Nabouwalu-Dreketi Highway folowing concerns raised by villagers in the area .
Divisional fisheries officer Joji Vakawaletabua said the cofferdams could have an impact on the i qoliqoli.
"We are aware of the concerns raised by villagers and people living around the area and we have alerted the Ministry of Environment," he said.
"Before the cofferdams were built, we had inspected the area and our concern is the welfare of the people who depend on the rivers for food and income.
"Development is good and we would appreciate that the roads be improved in a manner that will not affect people's livelihood."
Environment officer North Senimili Nakora referred all queries to headquarters. Efforts to obtain comments from the head office were futile.
Last week a group of villagers from Lekutu area raised their concern about cofferdams labelling them as a hazard to their i qoliqoli.
The Bua Urban Youth Network and some chiefs had also questioned the construction of cofferdams which would affect source of food for people in the area.
Road constructor China Railway First Group had explained that cofferdams were necessary to complete the bridges.
Spokesman Donald Singh said they were aware of the situation and had given an explanation to authorities concerned.
"Measures taken include shrinking the size of the cofferdam, clearing the remnant part of the river to keep enough space for fish and boats, increasing erosion protection using rock protection and having sand bag and geotextile sheet to avoid the soil being washed away."
Mr Singh said they also covered the top of the cofferdam at Nakadrudru with striped fabric.
"Now that the cofferdam and its protection works have been completed, the effects are going to be as little as possible."