Fiji Time: 7:51 AM on Sunday 18 February

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'Death traps'

Aqela Susu
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

THE enthusiasm of returning to school for about 40 students from two settlements in the township of Nasinu is dampened by the precarious journey across two rundown bridges with missing planks, rusted beams and no railings.

The students of Vunisaleka and Dibulu settlements in Narere, Nasinu, risk their lives daily when crossing two rundown bridges, but not all is gloom for the residents after the Fiji Roads Authority confirmed the completion of assessments on the two bridges.

FRA chief executive officer Jonathan Moore said the work required on the bridges were being scoped and a tender would be sent out soon for a foot crossing.

"FRA is treating this as a priority and will expedite this return tender review," Mr Moore said yesterday.

Parents of these children have described both bridges as "death traps" and have always feared for their children's safety especially during wet weather.

The two bridges are about 10 metres above a small creek that feeds into the Laqere River, connecting both settlements to Narere stage two and Muanikoso in Nasinu respectively.

According to Vunisaleka settlement headman Seremaia Saga, the bridges which have been serving the two settlements and other farming families in the area for about two decades, have been in poor condition since 2013.

Mr Saga said they sought assistance from authorities regarding the possible maintenance of both bridges, but nothing had been done so far.

"These two bridges have been a concern to us for so long now," he said.

"We are always worried about our children's safety when they go to school especially during unfavourable weather conditions because we have had adults and schoolchildren fall into the water while crossing these bridges on their way to school or church.

"Even our wives and mothers are scared to go across now because of the poor condition of the bridge. When we get heavy items, we now have to use the boat to transport instead.

"My only plea is that Government does something about this because it concerns the safety of our children and our wives and mothers."

Mr Saga said whenever they found any spare timber, they would take it to patch some of these missing planks on the bridges.

Iowane Kuruse has been serving as a church steward at the same settlement for almost 20 years.

He spent Christmas and New Year at CWM Hospital and was only discharged last week after injuring his head when he slipped and fell off the bridge while returning from a shopping trip with his children.

"I am not the first victim. There have been other children and adults who have fallen off these two bridges because of its condition," Mr Kuruse said.

"I only hope that something will be done soon since school has started again and it has been raining, making it more risky for our children to cross."








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