Road works currently taking place in the Martintar area. Photo: MARGARET NAQIRI.
By ANA SOVA
Nadi is urbanising at a very quick pace. After all it is the tourism hub of Fiji and not only is it the main international transportation hub for Fiji but also other South Pacific countries.
The Nadi region has a higher concentration of hotels and motels than any other part of Fiji with a large transient population of foreign tourists.
It is also one of the country’s largest sugarcane producers.
Nadi has a population of 11970 within the Nadi town boundary and 44367 for the total Nadi urban population including Nadi town, Nadi peri-urban and Nawaka peri-urban area according to the Nadi Town Council.
Like many developing towns, Nadi also struggles to keep up with this pace.
These new forces are incredibly diverse, but they share an underlying need for modern, efficient and reliable infrastructure.
As Nadi town prepares its transition into a city, a fact that cannot be avoided is that it still has a long way to go in its transition.
Like any other town in Fiji, Nadi share the agonized concern over road infrastructure.
The Nadi Town Council realizes that in order to have a badge name called Nadi City there needs to be a drastic improvement on the roads within its town and soon to be city boundary.
Nadi Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Peter Dining said they were in the process of working with the Fiji Roads Authority(FRA) to identify what the priorities were for 2017/18, 2018/19 up to 2020 in terms of road works infrastructure requirements in the Nadi area.
“This includes roads, footpath sand lighting. Probably 35 to 40 areas need urgent attention, and that excludes areas that might come into the city boundary once the area expands,” Mr. Dinning said
Meanwhile, FRA Chief Executive Officer, John Hutchinson said they were aware of the need to upgrade roads in the Nadi town boundary to bring it up to a city status.
“That’s a legacy issue, as towns and cities have developed, they’ve grown. A lot of those roads were farm tracks 20-30 years ago and probably the condition they’re in now, they’re still probably farm tracks but inside the town boundary soon to be city boundary,”
“Yes we’re aware of the issue but it’s a matter of prioritizing those roads and working through them progressively,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
He said the FRA can’t fix every road in every town when every town in Fiji has got exactly the same issues although they will look at providing suitable roads for the community.
“Our priority is to upgrade and fix those roads. I know the focus from a lot of people was footpaths, street lights, drainage and so on and having roads, I absolutely acknowledge that,”
“A lot of these roads have been around 30-40 years and never had a footpath, never had a streetlight, why? Because people got away with the waiver back then and didn’t do it and we suddenly have to come along and fix it and we’re doing it progressively,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
Nadi Road Projects
There are currently on-going road upgrade projects in Nadi.
Mr. Hutchinson said currently, the Nadi area has the Nadi and Suva Road Upgrading Project NASRUP) programme.
“One, which is Wailoaloa Junction up to the Denarau Junction, is now complete. In Two, is work underway at the moment. The work is starting to focus on that last section through Martintar down to Wailoaloa and that will continue through and will be over in the next 12 months,”
“Then the next section on the road currently under review at the moment is three: from Wailoaloa junction through to Narewa Road. We are reviewing that but in addition to that we’ve got work in the pipeline for the Denarau Back Road and we’re also looking at Martintar Bypass Road,” he said.
Mr. Hutchinson said on top of that is a major programme of works kicking off in the next 12 months on the Nadi-Lautoka corridor which will involve ultimately a four laning of that road all the way from Nadi through to Lautoka.
“That will involve some realignment on certain sections of the road but in the interim there is some quite extensive upgrade works going on in terms of intersections, pedestrian crossings and so on from Nadi to Lautoka to address some of the congestion issues that people are currently experiencing,” he said.
Martintar Bypass Road
Mr. Hutchinson said they’re also looking at upgrading cane rail route to ease traffic from Namaka to Nadi town.
“We’ve looked at it. At the moment there’s an existing cane rail route back roads which then runs on the Northern Press Road which we’re looking to upgrade which will decrease some of the traffic flowing through the Martintar and Namaka area. Then ultimately we’re looking at extending that Northern Press Road across to the Nadi Back Road,”
“That has some significant challenges, particularly with the bridge across the other river so that’s probably two or three years away, as a longer term solution,” he said.
He said they were also aware of long term plans in that area for some housing development in which the road developers will help address.
“But the idea is to distribute traffic. If you look at it, you’ve got the road to Denarau, the road to Nadi, the Queens Road then you’ve also got the Northern Press Road, we can distribute traffic in three directions,” Mr. Hutchinson said.