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Better Roads Help Revive Fiji’s Rural Economy

Video | 5 June 2019

Fiji's road network is being repaired and upgraded to improve mobility, safety, and climate change resilience. The Asian Development Bank is helping finance work that is boosting trade, tourism, and education. 

Transcript

Fiji – The road nework in Fiji is being repaired and upgraded to improve mobility, safety, and climate change resilience.

ADB is helping finance work that is boosting trade, tourism, and education.

"This road was hardly serviced by cars, small cars and taxis because of the previous condition of the road. That has been improved,” explains Apisai Kitelai from the Fiji Road Authority.

“The cars reach up to the villages right here now, even the taxis from Korovou to here and the taxis from Rakiraki to here.

“They travel by car and taxis because of the improvements in the road, as well as travel time. Travel time has been reduced dramatically. "

Better roads are stimulating rural economic growth.

“To the locals, you can see along the roadside because the increase in road users, the increase in traffic, because a lot of traffic have decided to go this way rather than go around the Queen’s Road, because it is much closer and much faster,” continues Kitelai.

“So it has promoted a lot of activities along this corridor in terms of economic activities by the locals they sell their produce to markets. You can see a lot of produce being sold alongside the road.”

Business conditions have improved, benefitting dairy and vegetable farmers.

“Before the road was a gravel road and we had a lot of dust. The hygiene of the milk, fresh milk, has improved,” says Kashmir Singh, a dairy farmer.

“We have also cut costs on the transportation of cattle feed and milk away from the farm. We have very low maintenance costs now.

“We have been making some good profits after the road has been completed. We have good price for good quality milk and access to market is quite easy.”

The Asian Development Bank has also been helping Fiji improve road maintenance practices.

“If you look at the past we spent a lot of money maintaining unsealed roads. When it is sealed, you know, the road one of the enemies is water - water penetrate through the road pavement,” explains Kitesai.

“But in this case, when we seal the road we are protecting the pavement from access by water into the pavement. So that’s an area where the maintenance is actually improving.”

All the work done is making a difference. Better roads have brought new life to some of Fiji’s remote communities.

“With the road before, we used the river for main transporting. They take goods, cassava, dalo to the market for moneywise,” says Rawona Comblaca, a resident of Nasautoka village.

“When the road was here, we used the bus, carriers, and taxis to take it to the market for moneywise. When the road was here, helping the villages taking their children to school and helping to the market.”