WITH the new school year about to start, residents of Wailoku outside Suva are hopeful the Vunidilo bridge — their only link to the main road — will be repaired soon.
The bridge which links more than 600 people from five different villages in Wailoku was closed by the Fiji Roads Authority yesterday after inspectors identified serious corrosion to the steel beams supporting the bridge and a very recent failure of one of the beams at the bridge abutment.
In an Information Ministry statement the authority reported they have engineers on site to assess if temporary propping up was viable to allow light vehicles to cross the bridge. "If this is possible, then the bridge may be open to restricted traffic by the end of this week," the statement said.
"The closure is regrettable but the seriousness of the issue requires that FRA closes the Vunidilo bridge immediately."
The statement said as a result of the closure, buses or taxis in the area would not be able to return as the bridge was the only access. Residents have called on the authorities to find a quick solution to the problem.
Villager Ulamila Vikitoa said she had children attending school and it would be difficult for them to come to the main road to board the bus. Shopkeeper Sunil Prasad said the closure had affected his supply of goods. An Australian tourist is also stranded with her rental car. Kelera Di from Sydney said she would have to pay additional charges to the rental company if the bridge was not repaired by the end of the weekend.