Opinion

Nine Villages Now Enjoy Reliable, Unlimited Access To The Main Roads

This is the full text of the PM’s speech during the commissioning of the Vanuakula Crossing in Ra yesterday.   Ni sa bula vinaka and good morning to you all. 
04 Feb 2016 08:57
Nine Villages Now Enjoy Reliable, Unlimited Access To The Main Roads
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

This is the full text of the PM’s speech during the commissioning of the Vanuakula Crossing in Ra yesterday.

 

Ni sa bula vinaka and good morning to you all. 

It gives me great pleasure to be back in the Western Division and to commission the Vanuakula Crossing, here in Ra, this morning.

 

Unlimited access for nine villages

Today we have before us a project that will make a big difference in the lives of nine villages.

Government has spent $2.1million to build this crossing through the Fiji Roads Authority. The crossing has been designed and constructed to last a long time and to withstand harsh weather and flood conditions. As a result, nine villages here in the Tikina – Nasau can enjoy reliable access to the main roads. The villages of Vanuakula, Nasau, Nabumakita, Nukulau, Nauria, Ovalau, Savu, Nasukamai, and Nailuva now have unlimited access to transport networks.

 

School children can safely cross river

And most importantly, your children will no longer have to wade across this stream every day to get to school.

Until now, villagers in the Tikina – Nasau were forced to cross the river as best you could, picking your way carefully through the water and across the rocks.

Naturally, the villagers here were especially worried about the vulnerability of your young children trying to cross the river. No child should have to face that danger in this day and age. Not in Fiji. Not anywhere.

Today we celebrate the fact that those days are gone forever in this community.

 

Rural development must be done; it’s worth the cost

In the past week, I have been speaking out about how important it is to ensure that the people in our rural and maritime communities have proper access to education, healthcare, water and good roads, much like our urban dwellers. It takes a special effort to serve rural communities. But it is worth the cost, and it must be done.

We must give our children quality education, and of course, they can’t get that education if they can’t reach school—every day, no matter what the weather brings.

 

$50m a year for major rural roads programme

Ladies and gentlemen,

We just made an agreement between the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Environment and the Fiji Roads Authority to focus resources and attention together on the major roadwork needed in rural areas over the next three years.

The Fiji Roads Authority will work closely with the Divisional Commissioners Office and these ministries to pick up the pace in developing and rehabilitating our rural roads. We will devote $50 million a year to increase and accelerate our major rural roads programme.

This is on top of general maintenance of existing rural roads that will have a new focus in the coming year.

By bringing these ministries together with the divisional commissioners, we have set priorities and will work through some of the issues that can be impediments to quickly building and repairing roads—like accessing gravel and obtaining other relevant approvals. This will help us pick up that pace and give our rural communities the roads they need more quickly.

 

Roads are a critical national priority

Good roads empower communities. They help our rural communities contribute more to the national economy and take advantage of resources that exist elsewhere in Fiji.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, the quality and condition of our roads and the reach of our highway system are very important to me. Our roads are a critical national priority and we have continued to give major funding for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance every year.

Certainly, our roads were in a terrible state after years of neglect. We have spent the last few years not just remedying the mistakes of the past, but trying to create a new standard for our roads.

My vision is for Fijians one day to see good roads as something to expect, not something to hope for, no matter where they live. And I know we can realise that vision.

Today, we took one step in that direction, with a project that was completed on time and under budget by more than a half million dollars. That is money we can now use for other rural road projects, and it’s the way government should operate.

This will be the future of Fiji, when the peace and simplicity of living in a rural area is not paid at the price of isolation and poverty.

And that day will come because we will have built the good schools, extended the electrical grid, developed a reliable water supply—and of course, because we have put our focused and single-minded attention on our rural roads.

All Fijians to help in adopting a new flag

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is clear that Fiji is not the same country we were at our independence, or even the same country we were ten years ago. We are making our own future. And that is why I am asking the people of Fiji to help us adopt a new flag.

I love our flag. I have served under it with pride as a military officer and your prime minister. But while that flag took us out of the past, I would like us to have a flag that takes us into the future—to where we are going rather than from where we have been.

The new flag—always with our beloved Fiji blue—can stand for the kind of people we are, the kind of nation we aspire to be, and the kind of country we will leave to these children.

We have established a transparent process for choosing a new flag, and I ask you all to participate. We are accepting design submissions until 29 February, and then we will select five designs to put before the people. There will be a national consultation during which time you will be able to tell us which design you like best.

I believe we will love whichever design we choose as much as we have grown to love our current flag—because it stands for Fiji. It stands for us. The new flag will tell the world that Fiji is a modern country, a leader in the Pacific, and a country on the move.

 

New crossing makes a big difference

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased for you today because this project will make a big difference in your lives. I am pleased for your children. I am pleased for the opportunity these crossings will bring to this area. And most of all, I am pleased to commission these magnificent structures that form the Vanuakula and Waivaka crossings.

Vinaka vakalevu

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