Opinion

Swift Response By Crew Hailed

After the onslaught of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston on Saturday, February 20, Fulton Hogan Hiways (FHH) worked closely with the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) to restore access and repair damage
15 Mar 2016 09:42
Swift Response By Crew Hailed

After the onslaught of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston on Saturday, February 20, Fulton Hogan Hiways (FHH) worked closely with the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) to restore access and repair damage on our roads.

FHH crew, some of whom had lost their homes during the monstrous cyclone, had worked around the clock in trying to restore road access.

These are brief encounters and progresses on works carried out by FHH crew:

 

Saturday, February 20

FHH Korovou Depot supervisor Ulaiasi Bolailai was unable to get home when TC Winston struck on that fateful day.

Mr Bolailai had to spend the night at the FHH Korovou Depot with the night watchman for company, not knowing of the devastation that ravaged its way across many parts of Fiji.

 

Sunday, February 21

At 6am, after checking in with FHH depot manager Blair Reid, Mr Bolailai and 30 FHH and internal sub-contractors employees were out inspecting road damage.

Mr Bolailai said that four of the crew members, who were out working to help others, had lost their homes.

“One of the crew was from Naivoco Village. Everyone ran to one house to take shelter when all the other roofs were flying off. Men, women, children, everyone stayed awake all night, holding on to ropes to keep the roof on,” he said.

Mr Bolailai, with his crew, drove towards Nausori and then along the Lodoni and Dawasamu Roads to inspect affected areas.

“We were the first to arrive. It was a very emotional experience. We used the three-ton work-crew truck to take people to the Korovou Hospital and collect children from QVS to take them to their homes.

“Some of them we met on the road, 10 kilometres away from the school had run so far in fear,” he said.

“We were the first to enter Dawasamu Road. The Fulton Hogan Hiways led the way for the Police vehicle behind us. We had to dance all around the fallen trees and power lines. We called FEA and asked them to shut off the power so we could travel the road safely,” said Mr Bolailai.

“As we came to the villages, some of the people cried. They didn’t have houses. It was like something out of the movies, like a bomb had dropped.”

Mr Bolailai said the people of Silana Village thought that it was the end of the world.

The village, located along the seashore, was hit with storm surges during the cyclone. In single file, all the villagers crawled through knee-high mud to reach the school on higher ground near the road. As they reached the school, the roof was blown away.

 

Monday, February 22

By 6am, Fulton Hogan Hiways work crew were out clearing debris on the Kings Road, Lodoni and Dawasamu Roads in Tailevu.

50 FHH workers working in this area had opened 82 kilometres of the Kings Road from Nausori to the western border, the 21 kilometre Lodoni Road and 14 kilometres of Dawasamu Road.

“We were able to open the Kings Road as far as Naboulini for four-wheel-drive vehicle access, on the first day,” Mr Reid said.

The Natovi Jetty was under water for a while and covered in washed away gravel.  Access to the jetty was made possible by the FHH teams who cleared the debris blocking Lodoni Road and two-thirds of Dawasamu Road.

This meant using chainsaws to remove fallen trees, backfilling washed out sections of roads and clearing slips.

“An  astounding effort by the Fulton Hogan Hiways crew to achieve an enormous amount of work in such a short time,” Mr Reid said.

The swift response and dedication of FHH crew in clearing out affected roads enabled people living in villages like Silana in Tailevu to receive much-needed aid and relief rations.

 

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