New access road and Foot-crossing bring relief to villagers

Caption: Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka with villagers of Vatukarasa in Tailevu and residents of Coloi Settlement in Naitasiri after the commissioning of the Vatukarasa Foot-crossing last week.

SUVA – Residents of Coloi Settlement in the district of Nabaitavo in Naitasiri no longer have to endure the struggles of crossing the nearby Naituvatuva River to attend church service at Vatukarasa Village every Sunday.

Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka commissioned their upgraded community access road and foot-crossing last week.

Mr. Watisoni Biutoga, 58, said the upgrade of their community access road has brought a sigh of relief to many.

“Before it used to be hard to take our things across to our homes due to poor accessibility. Our children too used to trek through slippery paths to get to school. But with this new development by the Government, we are very thankful because this will not only help us a lot but also bring much relief to us in Coloi and the villagers at Vatukarasa,” Mr Biutoga said.

Funded under the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management’s Community Access Roads, Footpaths and Footbridges (CARFF) Programme, these investments by the Government will benefit the communities of Vatukarasa in Tailevu and Coloi in Naitasri. The two communities are only separated by the Naituvatuva River.

Vatukarasa Village headman Mr. Viliame Tukutukumaimuri said one of the biggest challenges faced by the village before the implementation of the two projects by the Government was access to schools and safety for their children.

“There are two routes that our children use to get to school. However, when it rains both routes get flooded therefore they won’t be able to attend school. Today we thank the Government for bringing this development to our village. We are not only happy, but we are relieved. We can be rest assured that our children can still get to school without any hindrance, especially during rainy days,” Mr Tukutukumaimuri said.

“Also, the transportation of our farm produce to the market used to be a huge burden. We would have to lift it across the river and then walk a few meters to where the vehicle would pick us up from. With this development by the Government, we will no longer have to worry about any of this. We now bring our produce conveniently across the foot-crossing and the vehicle can pick it up from there as the community access road has also been upgraded.”

Ms. Mereisi Nakaidrau has been living at Coloi Settlement for the past 35 years. Since then, the mother-of-three said, crossing the river to attend church services and functions had become normal for them.

“Whenever there was a function that we would attend in the village, I have always feared slipping on a rock and falling in the water while trying to get to the other side. It was hard. This was the same situation faced by our children, who would need to wade across the river every morning and afternoon to get to and from school in Lomaivuna, Naitasiri, and Coloinavakacere Primary School. Accessibility to the nearby primary school for our children was also a huge challenge for us. I would witness my children walk to school daily by trekking along a muddy slippery path. The new road that has been done by the Government is very much welcomed by the villagers, especially the parents because we now know they have an improved and safer way to get to school daily,” she said.

In commissioning the project, Minister Ditoka acknowledged the villagers of Vatukarasa and residents of Coloi Settlement for their dedication, commitment, and unwavering support towards the Government that enabled the successful implementation of the two projects.

“We have not neglected your concerns as a village and your request, which is why we are here today to witness the successful completion of these two projects. As we hand over these infrastructures to you, we hope that they will be properly taken care of, and well-maintained,” Hon. Ditoka stated.

Caption: Villagers of Vatukarasa in Tailevu and residents of Coloi Settlement in Naitasiri after the commissioning of the Vatukarasa Foot-crossing last week.