THE upgrade of the Rakiraki bridge has been delayed because faults were discovered in the new design.
Fiji Roads Authority capital works manager Ian Hunter said the faults were discovered by New Zealand-based consultants MWH Global.
"The original contract led by the Department of National Roads did not include the approaches to the bridge or any provision for a bypass during construction," he said.
"Our consultant, MWH Global, discovered faults with the design of the bridge, and it has had to be redesigned.
"The redesign and negotiations on the revised scope of works with the contractor have caused the delay."
Mr Hunter said the authority expected construction to start next month and the bridge completed by the end of the year.
"Every help will be given to the contractor consistent with their contract with the FRA.
"Access across the river will be restored and will be expected to be safe against flood and other natural disasters for 100 years."
People living in nearby Rakiraki Village had expressed disappointment, saying the delay was making life difficult for them.
Mataqali o Naiceru headman Josateki Roqiqi said villagers had to cross the river because the route to town through Penang mill was longer and cost more.
He said while they welcomed the much needed upgrade, the progress of the work had been frustrating
"Many of us prefer to cross the river to go to town instead of paying $2 extra on taxi fare."