State moves to arrange upgrade of neglected road

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has directed the Commissioner Western’s office, the Land Transport Authority and the Fiji Roads Authority to collaborate in the upgrading of a rural road in Drasa, Lautoka, which has been neglected for more than 10 years.

In a talanoa session in Lautoka yesterday, Mr Bainimarama heard about the Vakabuli-Paipai road system that is used by more than 700 people.

Vakabuli Village headman Joseva Sogavolavola said the road systems were owned by Fiji Pine Ltd and logging trucks that frequented the area damaged the roads.

“We’ve made several requests to the LTA, to the DO’s office and to the Commissioner Western’s office to help upgrade these roads, but we keep getting told it is not a public road,” he said.

“Only one bus company services this road and sometimes they will refuse to travel inland because the road becomes very bad, especially when the logging trucks use it frequently. Only a few small vehicles are willing to come right to the village. Some areas don’t have bus services at all so our children have to walk to school. They are on the road as early as 6am to walk to the nearest bus stop, which is seven kilometres away.”

Sugarcane farmer Apakuki Lewaravu said the constant feedback on the inability to upgrade the road was frustrating.

“We have children and women who walk for kilometres to get to the bus stop,” he said. “It is a very sad site to see children walking in the morning and in the afternoon on these dusty roads.”

FRA officials, who were at the informal meeting, revealed that a road upgrade would mean more repairs because larger trucks also use the road.

“If we upgrade the road then we would have to constantly maintain it,” said a government official.

Mr Bainimarama said Government officials had to come up with a solution.

“There has to be a way to get around this problem,” he said. “I don’t want any more children walking from home to school.”

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