THE revelation by the Fiji Roads Authority that there is a complete lack of responsibility and compliance with the law by operators of heavy-laden vehicles is a concern.
It is shocking that operators of these vehicles who have been breaking the law have been getting away with it.
As our report on Page 1 today states, while the FRA said the Land Transport Authority is the responsible enforcement agency, it said they tried to work closely with the LTA to ensure legal limits were understood.
FRA acting CEO Rory Garland said they had seen little attempt to do this.
Following questions on monitoring, enforcement and contingency plans for this vital infrastructure, particularly following the Tamavua-i-wai bridge situation, Mr Garland said the FRA had only just begun to get a real measure of the extent of overloading.
The data they had received within the last month, he said, had demonstrated that more than half of vehicles stopped were overloaded, some by more than twice the legal limit.
The crack on the Tamavua-i-wai bridge, he said, was not apparent in 2012, nor was it apparent in a more recent check in 2015.
He said the deterioration of the bridge was significantly accelerated by "rampant overloading".
"The crack was brought to our attention on Wednesday afternoon and since then, our team of engineers have carried out a detailed investigation, drawn up a solution and work will start from tonight (Friday)," he said.
He said given the unanticipated degree of overloading, they were reviewing their bridge inspection program and would continue to focus on those critical points in the network.
Mr Garland said overloading cost the country $30 million. This estimate, he said, was based on the reduced life of bridges and roads as a consequence of overloaded vehicles.
Given that massive figure, it is shocking that this issue has been allowed to go almost untouched.
It is encouraging though that repair works on the Tamavua-i-wai bridge are expected to be completed by next Wednesday.
There will, however, be issues that will continue to be raised. For instance who should be held accountable for this recent turn of events which is causing great frustration and anger, not to mention a great deal of stress on daily commuters from Lami to Suva.
There will be interest focused on the total cost of repair works carried out on this particular bridge.
The bottom line though is that there is only one bridge serving as a vital link from the Lami end to Suva.
The next question is whether contingency plans are in place in the event this bridge is shut down for some reason in the future?
With one lane closed, commuters are already facing major issues. It goes without saying then that not many people will probably be prepared to face the nightmare that will no doubt unfold if the bridge is shut down.