Safety Concerns and Road Conditions in Korotari, Labasa

Lorry and tractor drivers in Korotari, Labasa are increasingly concerned for their safety due to inadequately maintained roads.

Vishwa Chand, a local sugarcane farmer and lorry driver, has highlighted the severe road conditions, stressing the urgent need for improvements to prevent fatal accidents. “The road surface is littered with rocks that can damage our tires or lorries,” he said. Chand explained that rainfall runoff exacerbates the issue by washing away portions of the road and exposing more rocks. “We plead with the Government to grade the road to help suppress the rocks,” he urged.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Biman Prasad, indicated in last month’s budget announcement that road infrastructure improvements were a priority to aid farmers in transporting their goods. However, Chand noted that despite previous grading efforts by the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA), the problem persists.

Chand lamented that the poor road conditions hinder sugarcane farmers’ ability to harvest and transport substantial amounts of cane. “We want to transport more cane, but the dangerous roads make us think twice,” he said. He also mentioned that earlier appeals to the Minister for Sugar, Charan Jeath Singh, have not received a response.

Chand identified improper drainage as a major contributor to the road’s poor condition, with runoff water eroding the soil. He argued for the construction of proper drains in certain parts of the road to prevent further damage. “Some parts of the road lack proper drainage, which exacerbates the problem,” he stated.

The deteriorating Vunimoli bridge, which is crucial for access to Korotari, also requires urgent repairs.

Chand, a 60-year-old farmer, proposed a long-term solution, suggesting that the Government and FRA tar seal three kilometers of road annually for three to four years to comprehensively address the issue. “The maintenance cost is high because the road is like rugged terrain we cross daily,” he said, adding, “Don’t wait for someone to die before taking action.”

Another local resident and commuter, Pradeep Lal, echoed these concerns. He pointed out the irony that despite Korotari being a key source of raw materials for road works, the area still suffers from poor road conditions. “Korotari is vital for sourcing gravel and stones for road works in Vanua Levu, yet we have some of the worst roads,” he claimed.

Korotari is a significant area in the North where vegetable farmers supply large quantities to the Labasa municipal market. The community hopes that their pleas for better infrastructure will be heard and acted upon soon.

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