Editorial comment – Road to big things

The new road linking Nakida village to Nawaisomo Village. Picture: DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION

TREKKING through rugged terrain for hours by foot to catch public transport will soon be a thing of the past for villagers of Nakida in the district of Nagonenicolo, Naitasiri.

This follows the construction of a new road linking them to Nawaisomo Village.

As our report on Page 2 yesterday pointed out, Minister for Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, Jone Usamate said Government heard the cries for a new road from villagers nestled in the interior of Viti Levu and it was their goal to see that every Fijian was given the opportunity to be part of the wider strategies of development.

Mr Usamate travelled to the village by vehicle last Friday with his team to assess the new road which is still under construction.

“I am indeed happy and blessed that during my term as minister, I was able to return to Nakida in a government vehicle as only two years ago, I walked here with two other ministers to witness firsthand what you go through to access services outside your village,” he said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and once we have completed the road to the standards required, it will be handed over to the Fiji Roads Authority, the custodians of our roads in Fiji.”

Villagers of Nakida, he said, would soon explore economic opportunities after the completion of the new road.

To say the villagers have been living it tough is an understatement. Back in September, 2015, one of our reporters at the time, Sikeli Qounadovu, travelled to Nakida and wrote about the hardship faced by villagers.

He said a statement by the Minister for Youth and Sports at the time, that the government would try and help speed up road construction, was welcomed by villagers.

But one villager, he wrote, Laisenia Senokonoko, welcomed it more than others, having almost lost his wife of 10 years because of the issue of accessibility.

He wrote that March 14, 2014 was a date the 33-year-old would never forget.

It was the day he had to carry his bedridden wife from the village – on foot and on a bamboo raft, to reach the nearest health centre in Nakorosule Village – a journey which took almost 10 hours.

It was her second day being bedridden and Mr Senokonoko said it felt like the longest day of his life.

His wife had been vomiting, had running stomach, her eyes had turned yellowish and was very weak.

“At around 8am, I had to carry my wife from the village to where the bamboo raft was – it took me half an hour to build the raft,” he was quoted saying.

“On our way down, our raft hit one of the rocks and smashed, so I had to carry my wife to land, fix the raft, carry my wife again and then paddled to and reached Wairuarua Village at around 11am.

“I knew I had to do something to save my wife and with whatever strength left in me, we managed to reach the Nakorosule Health Centre at around 6pm.”

His wife, Mere Ranadi, remarked: “I thought I was going to die but I kept seeing the faces of my children which gave me hope and I will forever be indebted to my husband for his determination.”

An ambulance transported the couple to the Vunidawa Hospital where, according to Mr Senokonoko, he was informed if he had not brought his wife, he would have lost her.

This will no doubt add value to the construction of the new road and drive through the hardship villagers once faced. Such developments are important for many reasons.

They add value to life, standards of living and economic prospects for everyone directly and indirectly impacted by such developments.

Acknowledgement is due to all those who have made this possible.

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