New bridge contracts

THE Fiji Roads Authority will finalise contracts for the construction of new bridges for Burelevu and Savusavu in Ra later this month.

FRA chief executive officer Jonathan Moore said the contracts would be done by the end of January.

Mr Moore was responding to questions sent by this newspaper on the state of the Burelevu and Savusavu bridges in Ra.

The two damaged bridges provide access to 19 villages from three districts in Ra.

Villagers have been using bamboo rafts, small boats and empty drums to ferry schoolchildren and their belongings across the Wainibuka River.

Nasau district spokesperson Meli Tokalau said villagers from the Nasau district had been travelling across the Wainibuka River using a small fibreglass boat.

“We have been requesting Government to help us in getting an outboard engine to help with getting people across faster,” Mr Tokalau said.

“A lot of people have to wait for a long time to get across the river because we have so many people moving across every day.”

At the end of the first week school supplies were still being ferried across the river for the three highland schools in the district — Nasau Primary School, Liwatimale Primary School and Namuaniwaqa Village School.

Liwatimale Primary School manager Sairusi Waitawa said travelling each day was an expensive exercise.

“Some of us coming from inland have to hire a carrier, which will cost each passenger $5, then when we get to the river we pay $1 and then going all the way to Rakiraki will cost us another $5,” he said.

“That’s $11 one way. Villagers can’t be paying that much when they already have little to spend.”

He said the school had received its donated desks and chairs which had to be ferried across the river on a boat.

“This is what we do every day when we get new things for the school.”

Meanwhile, villagers living near the Burelevu bridge were also crossing rivers under hazardous conditions.

Nalaba district spokesperson Peni Naqaco said they had received confirmation that work on a new bridge would be carried out last year.

“We kept getting reports that something will be done and that money has been put aside for this,” he said.

“But until now, we have seen nothing being done.”

He said people were charged $5 each to use bamboo rafts to cross the river in Burelevu.

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