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Editorial: Rotumans Have A Good Reason To Celebrate

For 40 years a plan for an extended Rotuma airport runway lay waiting to be implemented by a Gov­ernment. No doubt a cost-benefit analysis was carried out and it must
31 Oct 2018 11:48
Editorial: Rotumans Have A Good Reason To Celebrate
Prime Minister and FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama.

For 40 years a plan for an extended Rotuma airport runway lay waiting to be implemented by a Gov­ernment.

No doubt a cost-benefit analysis was carried out and it must have been felt that the cost far outweighs the ben­efits. That decision was based on a strictly commercial sense. It took precedence over the interests of the people.

This Government has mixed the two opposing views and through Fiji Airports and Fiji Link come out with a solution that makes people on both sides of the divide happy.

To be able to do it you need vision and political courage. That’s what Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his FijiFirst Government has provided.

Mr Bainimarama was spot on when he said the open­ing of the runway extension had paved a new future of connectivity for every Rotuman man, woman and child.

It’s been dubbed a game changer for Rotumans.

Previously Rotumans had to make do with Twin Otter aircraft going into the island with a re­striction of about seven passengers per flight.

If anyone has had family going to Rotu­ma the waiting time to get on board and come out from Ro­tuma is very restric­tive. Some people wait for two months.

Monday’s inaugural Fiji Link ATR flight from Nadi to Rotuma has been made pos­sible by the runway extension.

Before, travelling to Rotuma by air was usually a headache. The old runway, built in the 1980s, was a bane for aviators and travellers.

The weather dictated what happened. When it rained it made the runway unusable, delaying flights. The type of aircraft was also restricted.

The $12.8million upgrade by Fiji Airports has changed that.

Past Governments neglected developing the airport be­cause they saw no business case for an expanded runway in Rotuma.

Mr Bainimarama correctly said – “The difficulty of the project, and the isolation of Rotuma from the mainland, made this a task too grand and too ambitious for them to undertake. As usual there were doubters like the po­litical opposition who were saying upgrades such as new, award-winning Nadi International Airport, the soon-to-be-upgraded airport in Nausori, said these tasks were simply impossible.”

But they have been proven wrong again. The runaway upgrade makes Rotuma feel more connected to the rest of Fiji than at any point in our nation’s history.

It is expected to open up opportunities for new econom­ic activities that Rotumans can benefit from.

Once Rotuma felt isolated and missed out on the eco­nomic prosperity that we are experiencing all through­out Fiji.

Today Rotumans are absolutely delighted because they see the potential for economic growth and prosperity.

So much so that they have pledged their support for Mr Bainimarama in this election.

MAIKA BOLATIKI

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj




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