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Roadworks cause delay in bus schedules

Ana Madigibuli
Saturday, August 12, 2017

COMMUTERS and motorists will have to be patient with road developments carried out in the Suva — Nausori corridor as the Fiji Roads Authority work on completing projects on time.

Fiji Roads Authority have recently set aside more than $40.9m for sealed road renewal projects around the country and an additional $22m for rehabilitation and much needed surfacing project works on roads this year and next year.

These projects that would see road conditions improve come 2018 will certainly offer less distress on commuters and motorists.

Fiji Roads Authority CEO Robert Sen said the major roads to be resealed in 2017 to 2018 included certain sections of Nasese Rd, Amy St, Khalsa Rd, Mead Rd, Milverton Rd, Brown St in Samabula, roads in Narere as well as other side roads in Vatuwaqa and other parts of Fiji.

Suva, along with the bordering towns of Lami, Nasinu, and Nausori has a total urban population of around 330,000, over a third of the nation's population according to the Fiji Bureau of Statistics 2007 Census.

The bureau also says that the population along the Nasinu-Nausori corridor alone stands at 135,050 according to statistics obtained in the last census.

Island Buses Ltd director Ravendra Kewal who has 45 buses servicing the Suva-Nausori corridor and some parts of Tailevu South said his drivers had on some days missed out on scheduled trips due to the roadworks, especially in the new four-lane development between Nausori and Nakasi. This was because of long traffic jams and happened on days when contractors controlled traffic at various points between these stretches of roads due to work conducted on it.

While he declined to elaborate on the costs involved as a result of the reduction in the number of buses servicing a route, it would be substantial for any company.

Mr Kewal said it was costly for the company to repair its buses because of the high wear and tear issues it faced as a result of the poor condition of roads. "We service Nausori to Suva and the interior of Tailevu and we face these road problems every day. We hope the roads authority can fast track these developments so our buses don't get stuck in traffic queues and miss out in this very competitive routes," he said.

Another bus company S. Nair Transport managing director Kunjan Nair who operates 35 buses servicing the Davuilevu, Nakasi, Wainibuku to Suva routes said the road development projects affected his business in terms of buses missing out on their time schedule at peak hours.

"The potholes are bad, it contributes to some repairs on our buses and more effort needs to be done in developing our roads," Mr Nair said.

Narere Buses Ltd director Justin Ravindra who has 26 buses servicing Narere, Suva Nausori and Tailevu routes said the only problem his drivers faced was the delay in bus schedules to their destinations.

Fiji Taxi Association general secretary Rishi Ram said it was sad to see bad road conditions especially during the rainy season.

"The road in front of World Harvest Centre in Kinoya needs a bit of work and there is a lot of potholes there. We don't know whether the materials used to construct our roads are good or just cheap ones because the roads get damaged so easily," he said. "At the end of the day the motorists are facing the problem of having to replace car parts which needs to be up to LTA standard to pass a vehicle.

He says the four-lane road development would not be able to cater for the thousands of cars being brought into the country even when it is completed.

Nausori Town Council CEO Akhtar Ali said the four-lane road development occurring in the Nausori — Nasinu corridor was absolutely necessary for motorists and commuters as the increasing motor vehicles had now jammed up the two-lane road. "The four-lane project is long overdue and would increase economic activities in the Nakasi and Nausori corridor," Mr Ali said.

Today if you take a bus ride from Nausori to Suva during peak hours it would take at least two long hours. A normal ride should take between 45 minutes to an hour at the most depending on the number of stops the driver makes.

That is just how bad the traffic situation is and stakeholders need to come up with a solution to resolve this issue. With the increasing number of second-hand car dealers and sale occurring we can only hope this happens sooner and road conditions improve.

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