I can see a lot of smiles around here today. Happy faces that understand just how much of a change this new crossing is going to make to your lives, and the lives of thousands of others who regularly use the Wailevu West Coast Road.
Naviavia Crossing will now connect the whole Northern Division including the three Provinces of Bua, Cakaudrove, and Macuata. Furthermore, it will be a vital link for many farmers in Vaturova, Wailevu and Wainikeli for example, supporting the critical harvesting and transportation of crops, vegetables and a range of other goods.
Also, it provides a safe means of access to schools and higher learning institutions for the youngest members of our communities; while ensuring improved efficiency in the delivery of effective medical services to Fijians in Vanua Levu.
Hence, Naviavia doesn’t just connect roads; it bolsters the Fijian economy, improves access to education and boosts healthcare delivery. If you were to look at a map of Fiji that showed our ongoing development, you would see that your new crossing is part of a strategic network of roads, bridges, jetties, airport services, electricity, water, sanitation and health infrastructure that my Government has prioritized for investment.
Fiji’s national infrastructure network is more robust, more resilient, and more reliable than it has ever been, because we know that strong economies and strong recoveries are built on strong infrastructure.
It is a proven way to create more livelihoods and support our farmers and rural and maritime communities; and the most important way we continue to build Fiji’s climate resilience.
The strength and frequency of recent storms that have hit Fiji are unparallel in recorded history. We have experienced fourteen (14) cyclones since 2016. The world is warmer, storms are stronger and the construction standards of the last century are no longer good enough. The only rational choice is for us to build better infrastructure. This new crossing is a testimony to that commitment.
As some of you know, Naviavia Crossing is part of the Fiji Roads Authority project for four (4) crossing upgrades in the North which includes Taganiwaqa, Nayarabale and Waibula crossing.
Over the next five (5) years, FRA will undertake a capital works programme valued at $2.5 Billion Dollars. Within that financial commitment, $15 Million Dollars is allocated in this year’s National Budget to fulfil our commitment to connect Fiji’s rural communities to its economic centres and key public services. These communities must have the security and the connection to the rest of the country that a robust road network will provide if we are to ensure that no Fijian is left behind.
As I mentioned in Korovuli earlier this week, I want to add here that my Government has been steadily working to connect these communities over the last several years, but, if past governments had supplied the same vision and showed the same initiative, all those communities could have been connected to the nation much, much sooner.
Instead, thousands of Fijians have had to endure decades of painstaking, unsafe travel across waterways just to get to a doctor; or exorbitant fuel prices just to take their produce to market so they could earn a basic living. We are righting that historic injustice with every resilient road we pave, jetty we construct, and bridge that we build.
It is our commitment alone that will allow all these isolated villages, who we’ve heard directly from, to be connected; to be afforded the same right to progress and equity that any Fijian living in an urban area enjoys.
To conclude, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to the Chair of the Fiji Roads Authority, the CEO Kamal Prasad, and all the Staff for the successful execution of this project.
It gives me great pleasure to officially commission the newly upgraded Naviavia crossing.
Thank you and God bless us all!