Neglected Roads in Korotari Spark Safety Concerns

Lorry and tractor drivers in Korotari, Labasa are expressing concern for their safety due to poorly maintained roads. Vishwa Chand, a local sugarcane farmer and lorry driver, highlighted the severity of the issue, stating it must be addressed to prevent fatal accidents.

“There are rocks on the road surface that can damage the tires or our lorry,” Chand said. He noted that runoff water during rainfall often washes away sections of the road, exposing jagged rocks.

“We plead with the Government to grade the road to suppress the rocks,” he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Biman Prasad, during his budget announcement last month, mentioned the Government’s commitment to improving road infrastructure to help farmers transport their goods to the market. Despite previous grading efforts by the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA), Chand said the problems have persisted.

Chand emphasized that the poor road conditions are hindering sugarcane farmers from harvesting effectively. “We want to get more cane across, but the dangerous conditions make us hesitate,” he said. Previous requests for assistance from the Minister for Sugar, Charan Jeath Singh, have reportedly gone unanswered.

The drainage issues contributing to the road’s poor state are significant, as water runoff frequently washes away the soil. “Some parts of the road have no drains, so it affects the road; we need proper drainage,” Chand underscored.

The Vunimoli bridge, which connects the road to Korotari, is also in a deteriorated state and requires urgent repair.

Chand suggested a solution: “If the Government and FRA could tar seal three kilometers of road per year at Korotari, and continue this for three to four years, the entire road problem would be addressed.” He linked high vehicle maintenance costs directly to the rugged terrain drivers face daily. “Don’t wait for someone to die before any work on the road is done,” he urged the Government.

Another local resident and daily commuter, Pradeep Lal, pointed out the irony that despite Korotari being a major source area for raw materials for road works, its roads remain poor. “Korotari is the mother of all roads in Vanua Levu because our road leads to the spot where gravel and stones are sourced for road works elsewhere in the division,” he claimed.

Korotari is a significant area in the North, known for its vegetable farmers who supply substantial quantities to the Labasa municipal market.

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