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An Acceptable Trafficable Road Is Being Explained

In Fiji, there are different types of roads that all provide different levels of service. The most notable differentiation is between a sealed road and a gravel road. The challenge
15 Nov 2014 00:01
An Acceptable Trafficable Road Is Being Explained
Road network

In Fiji, there are different types of roads that all provide different levels of service.

The most notable differentiation is between a sealed road and a gravel road. The challenge today is trying to explain in FRA terms what is an acceptable trafficable road.

Opinions differ on this and one could argue what in their own opinion should be a trafficable road.

The key point is that not all roads are designed and maintained to be open for use by all vehicles. Government is investing a lot of money in road infrastructure.

There is now a constitutional obligation to provide reasonable access to transportation.

For FRA, this means ensuring the existing 11,000km of road remains trafficable, as well as developing plans so that people who currently do not have reasonable access to transportation eventually get it.

I frequently travel the network and the reality is that there are still parts of the road network that you can only get to depending on vehicle type.

The road types

For example, there are track roads that you can only travel on if you have a 4 wheel drive and some of these roads lead to small villages and farming settlements.

On these roads, we certainly wouldn’t expect a carrier load of people to travel and we expect that the track road would have to be developed to a higher standard before it can accommodate larger vehicles.

Then there are those roads that are operated by Rural Service Licence operators (RSL) and carriers because buses cannot make trips on these roads either due to its rough, steep or narrow conditions.

On these roads periodic maintenance most probably in the form of grading and spreading of gravel would take place once /twice a year.

For gravel roads, the highest standard we maintain is for bus routes. They are a priority for FRA and are inspected regularly.

Emergency works

However, it is important to note that should conditions change rapidly; the understanding we have with bus operators is that they notify us before the road gets to a point where they interrupt services.

Our contractors would need to schedule emergency remedial work and it is positive to see stakeholders working together to ensure that bus services are not interrupted.

As a result of road maintenance, villages like Dawara in the Cakaudrove province now have access to bus services after eight years.

FRA is also working with LTA particularly where new bus route licences are being considered; FRA has to programme work to ensure that the road is up to trafficable standard and can accommodate large vehicles.

Why? 

A bus service needs to be regular and reliable and FRA needs to ensure that the services can continue to operate even in wet weather.

FRA also works closely with the Ministry of Rural Maritime Development Authority and the Commissioner’s Offices to upgrade and build new roads under the Rural Roads Programme.

Rural lifelines

These rural roads are lifelines for communities and villages. They provide access to schools, health services, markets and help to sustain Fiji’s unique way of life.

In Namuavoivoi on Vanua Levu, 23km of rural road is being upgraded.

This will provide a major short cut for people from Wainunu area travelling to Labasa and will also open up the whole area with improved connections to the rest of Vanua Levu.

World Bank definition

The World Bank defines reasonable access to transportation as being within 2km of a road, but that is only part of the story.

Part of the challenge for FRA is to advise Government on what ‘reasonable access to transportation’ could mean, and what it will cost to deliver that level of service.

For instance is it acceptable that a road is closed for 1-2 days per year due to high water levels?

This sort of criteria can have a major bearing on the cost of delivering the desired level of service across the country.

This is something we continue to work on in order to give Government the best advice possible to make long term development and funding decisions.

– Neil Cook is the CEO of the Fiji Roads Authority. This is his regular column which will be published by the Fiji Sun on Saturdays.

 




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