SUNBIZ

BRI-Breathing New Hope In Fiji

For a country like Fiji which is world re­nowned as a holiday destination, infra­structure development through BRI helps to meet the growing demands of tourism.
25 Apr 2019 16:19
BRI-Breathing New Hope In Fiji
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Embassy of China’s then Charge De Affaires ad Interim Gu Yu during the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Vatuwaqa Bridge on January 11, 2018.

A joyful crowd gathered in the Suva Municipal Market as Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama cut the red ribbon to open the much-anticipat­ed Stinson Parade Bridge in early January 2018.

The original deteriorating bridge had been closed for six years, leav­ing many vendors, citizens and tourists battling against unbear­able traffic congestion and market suffocation.

Benefits to Fijian people

At the opening ceremony, Fijians could not hide their joy and relief.

The reopening of the bridge means less traffic time, on-time ar­rival at the market for both vendors and their customers, and more quality time people to be spent at home with their loved ones.

Freeing up traffic congestion and providing smooth travel as well as daily commuting to and from the city, might mean little to outsiders, but to Fijians it is everything.

The bridge has made roads safer for drivers and ensured that the entire area becomes far more ac­cessible for passers-by, and given Fijians living in Lami, and beyond, access to the capital city, Suva, like never before.

Located in the center of the cen­tral business district, the bridge is accessed by bus drivers, minivan drivers, market vendors, school students and people from all walks of life.

A few minutes from the city, the newly upgraded Vatuwaqa Bridge was also opened on the same day allowing access to Nasinu, the most populated municipality in Fiji.

With a combined funding of 30 million U.S. dollars, the projects were made possible with the assis­tance of the Chinese government under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Fiji’s signatory to BRI

Fiji became a signatory to the BRI last year with focus on strengthening connec­tivity in policy co-ordination, facilities connectivity, enhanced trade and invest­ment, financial coordination and people-to-people bonding.

BRI further strengthened more than four decades of diplomatic ties between China, the world’s sec­ond largest economy, and Fiji, the geographic and so­cio-economic hub of the South Pacific.

Through the initiative, China has also trained 149 Fijians over the last two years in women’s empowerment, youth devel­opment, climate change, agriculture, education, media, health, fishery, human resources management and information technology.

These projects are testament to the pop­ularity of the BRI, announced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The BRI provides a lifeline to modern, growing and ambitious countries that as­pire to achieve regional and global promi­nence through infrastructure develop­ment and trade.

At this year’s Chinese New Year celebra­tions in Fiji, Prime Minister Bainima­rama acknowledged the Chinese-Fijian community as an invaluable partner in the country’s record-breaking economic growth and development.

With BRI one does not have to look far to see policies and plans come to fruition. For a country like Fiji which is world re­nowned as a holiday destination, infra­structure development through BRI helps to meet the growing demands of tourism.

China-Pacific Friendship Association

China-Pacific Friendship Association President Hiria Ottino mentioned at a panel discussion at this year’s Boao Fo­rum for Asia that 2019 has been dubbed as China Pacific Tourism Year.

Since Fiji is already operating a direct flight to Hong Kong, there must be plans to open more direct flights from the Chinese mainland to the Pacific.

The Pacific China Development Initiative will run from 2019 to 2023 with the aim of preparing the Pacific to be China-ready and China to be Pacific-ready.

The initiative will also examine the need to sustainably develop and promote the Pa­cific in niche market segments in China.

Regardless of the criticism some may have about the BRI, it is a great initiative designed for the betterment of mankind.

Hats off to the Chinese government for bringing hope to a tiny island country in the Pacific.

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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