Fiji Roads Authority Chief Executive, Jonathan Moore says the honest and undeniable truth of the situation is that we will not see wholesale road improvements for 4 to 5 years.
Moore says the availability of funding to do wholesale improvements is not there in the timescale required.
He says each kilometre of rehabilitated road costs around $1 million.
The FRA CEO says they have previously advised stakeholders and the media that to provide a transportation network that performs to international standards will require an investment of around $4 billion, and a large proportion of this value is for road rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Moore says this level of funding is simply not available in the short term, so they have to plan the rehabilitation work over a period of 15 to 20 years, and then they have to start over again because those roads that were first-rehabilitated will be getting to the end of their expected service lives.
He says there will be a local improvement for now, and the FRA will be identifying the most severely damaged areas and working on their rehabilitation first, but large-scale improvement will not be seen until the first of the major rehabilitation projects are completed 3 years from now.
The Authority is planning to expand this rehabilitation work to cover 15 major roads within Suva and long sections, the most severely affected sections, totalling almost 100 kilometres of Queens Road and Kings Road.
He says until then FRA will continue to repair and maintain accessibility.
Moore says there has been much comment in the media regarding the current condition of the roads; and residents and road-users, particularly around the Central Division, will no doubt have seen the proliferation of potholes in the roads following the recent heavy rain; and many are wondering why there are so many and why they cannot be eliminated.
He says this an increasing concern for all of us as we enter a new wet season.
The FRA CEO says many roads in the Central Division were constructed in the 1980s and 1990s and have outlived their serviceable life – the accepted life of a road is no more than 25 years, in areas such as Central Division with its severely wet weather this could be even shorter.
Moore says the serviceable life of roads in the Central Division has been further reduced because throughout the 30+ years life to date there has been little effort exerted to properly maintain any of the roads. He says deterioration has also been accelerated through uncontrolled overloading for decades.
Moore says the only way to significantly reduce the number and frequency of potholes is to reconstruct or rehabilitate whole sections of roads and then properly maintain them.
He says in order to overcome this problem, FRA is undertaking a Road Rehabilitation Programme through the Central Division that focuses on forming new roads that will then be properly maintained through the Road Maintenance Programme for their entire serviceable life.
This Road Rehabilitation Programme has already started with the recent rehabilitation work on Princes Road, Queens Road Lami, Ratu Mara Road and Ratu Dovi Road, as well as the new road works along Kings Road between Nakasi and Rewa Bridge.
The FRA CEO says the problem that they are facing has three principle aspects: The South Pacific climate is changing, Fiji is becoming more wet, more frequently, which is accelerating the deterioration, they are starting to lose the battle against time and worsening road conditions and the only way to regain control is to accelerate the Rehabilitation Programme.
Moore says the longer it takes to achieve the Rehabilitation Programme the more rapidly the roads will deteriorate.
He also says there have been accusations recorded in the media that the Fiji Roads Authority is somehow playing a ‘Blame Game’.
Moore says what some consider ‘blame’ FRA considers ‘truth without spin’.
He says throughout their explaining period the only ‘blame’ they have attributed is in the direction of those that underfunded PWD and mismanaged the infrastructure needs of Fiji. Moore says it is these individuals that should be truly embarrassed and ashamed that their actions have resulted in what we see and experience today.
He says the truth is that there is no practical rapid solution.
Moore says Fiji does not have an economy that can support rapid recovery from this neglect.ADVERTISEMENT Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.