Bridge debacle inevitable with lack of policing of heavy, overloaded trucks
The Tamavua-i-wai Bridge debacle was a disaster waiting to happen. Anyone anywhere near our main roads will have seen the fast-growing size of trucks and their loads. Anyone thinking seriously about it would have wondered about the impact this could have on our bridges and roads. Now anyone travelling along the Queens Road in and out of Suva knows. The bridge has been reduced to one lane because of the damage. The daily lives of the thousands of people travelling daily on this route have been disrupted by the consequential delays. Fiji Roads Authority has moved quickly to cut the risk of a disaster waiting to happen. But now there is a headache for all motorists and commuters who travel this route. That includes workers, commuters, company vehicles and school children. Travelling time between Suva and Lami or viceversa during peak hours can stretch into hours. Jasper Singh, the managing director of Shore Buses, said his buses are running up to three hours behind schedule. And people were complaining.
Taxi drivers are refusing to take fares to places like Delainavesi, Lami and Veisari.
This is because the bridge has been partially closed to just to one lane as cracks have been detected by the FRA. Long queues of vehicles will be the norm at both ends of the bridge until repair works are completely carried out. Workers on both ends of the bridge now have to change their wake-up times if they want to make to work on time. As for the students? A school teacher at a primary school in Suva said students from the Lami side arrived at 10am and some just did not turn up at all. The FRA’s advice – “We urge people to avoid using the route in peak hours if possible, use local shops and facilities in Lami to avoid having to cross the bridge.” Why did this happen? FRA has been clear in pointing the finger on overloaded trucks and the lack of checking and control on them. It has outlined the damage they are doing to our roads and bridges.
It is obviously frustrated that this is allowed to happen. It has no control over this itself. Were some people sleeping on their job by not checking the vehicle weights, especially for big and heavy trucks? FRA is optimistic that the two lanes can open again in under a week. Its engineers will be working around the clock to make this happen. But how many other bridges are at risk? How many roads are being damaged?
All because these increasingly big and heavily loaded trucks are seemingly facing little scrutiny. Let’s hope action to remedy this will be swift. The Tamavua-i-Wai bridge debacle is a warning sign that must be looked at with great urgency.
We the people are your never ending supporters towards winning that Gold medal in Rio.
Minister for Youth and Sports
Fulton Hogan Hiways staff keeping close watch on Tamavua-iwai bridge after cracks were noticed on the bridge.