As part of the Peoples’ Coalition Government’s plans to boost infrastructure development and promote rural development, the Prime Minister Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka and China’s Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency Mr. ZHOU Jian this morning formalised the exchange of notes for the road upgrade project in parts of Vanua Levu.
The China Aid project will focus on the maintenance and upgrade of 82 kilometres of rural roads, including parts of the Natewa-West Coast and the Nabalebale-Naviavia/Dawara Roads in Cakaudrove and part of the Nabouwalu-Makolei Road in Bua.
The road upgrading project is estimated to cost FJD $300m and will be the flagship project under the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It will involve 22 bridges being constructed that will benefit 61 villages and 15 Schools and improve access to hospitals and medical facilities as well as to the USP and FNU Campuses in Labasa.
The upgraded roads will facilitate smoother travel and have a significant impact on the socio-economic landscape in Vanua Levu, improving access to markets, education, health care, public services and stimulate economic activities.
Prime Minister Rabuka said that “after the opening of the refurbished National Hockey Center and the National Aquatic Center last week, today we continue to see the generosity of our friends from the Peoples’ Republic of China with this formal exchange of notes”.
“I wish to commend China’s ongoing cooperation in advancing issues of mutual priorities at the regional and global arena. The “One China Policy”, has been the firm foundation of Fiji-China diplomatic relations, founded some 49 years ago.”
“I thank Ambassador ZHOU Jian for our continuing discussions on the prospects for future cooperation in the areas of socio-economic development.”
The exchange of notes demonstrates Fiji and China’s commitment to sustainable development and highlights the continued partnership between the two nations.
Hon. Rabuka also took the opportunity to reiterate the Fiji Government’s commitment to strengthen Fiji and China’s partnership for the mutual benefit of both nations.
Ambassador ZHOU, in delivering his remarks, highlighted that the project will not only include road tarsealing and maintenance but also the construction of 22 brand new bridges.
“When completed, the project will successfully connect 61 villages, 15 schools and help improve the infrastructure construction level and traffic condition in Vanua Levu,” he said.
“I would like to emphasise that China and Fiji are always good friends and partners. Since both countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018, bilateral and economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges have yielded fruitful results.
“This project will be the flagship of the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Fiji and we will work together to build it into a high-quality and model project.
“China will continue to promote cooperation with Fiji under the framework of the BRI in areas such as infrastructure construction, renewable energy, agriculture and fisheries.”
As part of the project, a feasibility study will first be carried out where a technical team from China will be despatched to Fiji to carry out the proposed work, in collaboration with the Fiji Roads Authority and Transport Department of the Ministry of Works.