CAPTION: Prime Minister Bainimarama meets people of Bua. Photo: MINFO.
Developments in the Northern Division will intensify once works on the Nabouwalu/ Dreketi highway in Vanua Levu are completed.
For years, road conditions have made travel often inaccessible for those wanting to commute between Labasa and Nabouwalu in the Bua province.
That will now change after the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama joined senior government officials and diplomatic crops in commissioning the works to begin construction of the “Nabouwalu to Dreketi” highway.
Construction works monitoring will be undertaken by China Railway and Fiji Roads Authority.
In his address, the Prime Minister outlined the plans by the Government to improve Fiji’s road infrastructure including a massive $420million to maintain, repair, upgrade and build roads and bridges around the country.
“Today as we break ground on the Nabouwalu- Dreketi Highway, we are celebrating a significant milestone in our mission to transform Fiji’s road network,” the Prime Minister said.
“This is a massive investment in Fiji’s future. It needs to be done and every Fijian knows it. And especially those who use this road, easily one of the worst I have ever travelled on, especially in the recent rain.
“We saw several trucks carrying cargo bogged in the mud or toppled into drains. It is a major impediment to trade and it cannot continue.”
The Prime Minister highlighted the significance of the event and pointed out that it “represents a $228m, four-year long project that will provide a whole range of benefits for the Northern Division”.
While this new development will improve the lives of ordinary Fijians who use this road, the Prime Minister said that it will boost economic investment in the north.
“The upgrades of the 70 km highway will greatly lift economic activity in this area of Vanua Levu.” PM Bainimarama said.
“It will support the sugar industry, the mining industry, forestry operations, agriculture and tourism. And it will also open up new economic opportunities yet to be explored.
“The convenient access that this new highway will provide will attract both local and overseas investors, who before now were turned off by the lack of basic infrastructure here.”
The head of government also pointed out the newly established Fiji Roads Authority would monitor the progress of this project.
“As I signaled in the 2013 Budget, we are not going to continue to have road crews filing in potholes just to have them reappear again every time it rains,” PM Bainimarama said.
“We are not going to have corruption and incompetence blocking our path. We demand high quality work. And we will give the whole country the same standard.
“The new Fiji Roads Authority will be our new watchdog. If the roadwork isn’t up to scratch, we will demand that it be done at no cost to taxpayer. This has never happened before in Fiji. We are serious about quality, and we will no longer accept sub- standard work.”
Traditional elders of Bua commended the Prime Minister on Government’s vision to empower all Fijians. In their traditional i-Taukei ceremony of appreciation, the elders said this project will benefit their children and the future generation.
The Prime Minister said the four-year construction period will see 40 per cent of the project cost pumped directly into the local economy. This includes the use of local materials for this project.
As well, more than 700 locals will be employed during this period.