Safety Concerns and Urgent Pleas: Road Conditions in Korotari Raise Alarms

Lorry and tractor drivers in Korotari, Labasa are increasingly concerned about their safety while driving on poorly maintained roads.

Vishwa Chand, a local sugarcane farmer and lorry driver, emphasized that the road conditions are hazardous and need immediate attention to prevent fatal accidents. “There are rocks on the road surface that can damage our tires and lorries,” he stated. Chand explained that rainwater runoff often washes away sections of the road, exposing these rocks.

“We plead with the Government to grade the road to cover the rocks,” he urged.

During his budget announcement last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Biman Prasad, stated that the Government is prioritizing road infrastructure improvements to help farmers transport their goods to the market.

Chand remarked that the roads in Korotari are so treacherous that he often has to carefully balance his lorry to avoid overloading. He noted that the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) had previously done some grading work, but the issue persists.

The road conditions have significantly impacted the sugarcane farmers’ ability to harvest efficiently. “We want to transport more cane, but the dangerous roads make drivers and farmers hesitant,” Chand added.

He also mentioned that previous requests for assistance from the Minister for Sugar, Charan Jeath Singh, have gone unanswered. Chand believes the primary cause of the poor road conditions is inadequate drainage, leading to soil erosion from water runoff. “Certain parts of the road need proper drains,” he said.

The Vunimoli bridge, which connects the road to Korotari, is also in disrepair and urgently needs fixing.

Chand proposed that the Government and FRA should tar seal three kilometers of road each year in Korotari for the next three to four years. “This could solve the entire road problem,” he suggested. The cost of vehicle maintenance, according to Chand, is high due to the rugged terrain.

“Don’t wait for someone to die before taking action,” he warned the Government.

Pradeep Lal, another resident and daily commuter, pointed out the irony that despite Korotari being a major supplier of raw materials for road works, their own roads are in poor condition. “Korotari is crucial as it leads to the spot where gravel and stones for road works are sourced,” he claimed.

Korotari is one of many areas in the North where vegetable farmers supply significant quantities to the Labasa municipal market.

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