Secondly, it provides a safe means of access to schools and higher learning institutions for the youngest members of our communities; and finally, it ensures improved efficiency in the delivery of effective medical services to Fijians in Vanua Levu.
Hence, Korovuli Bridge doesn’t just connect two roads; it bolsters the Fijian economy, improves access to education and boosts health-care delivery.
If you were to look at a map of Fiji that showed our ongoing development, you would see that your new Bridge is part of a strategic network of roads, bridges, jetties, airport services, electricity, water, sanitation and health infrastructure that my Government has prioritised 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 $5.3 Million Dollar Bridge is a testimony to that commitment.
Korovuli is built to globally recognised climate resilient standards and now connects the entire Northern Division, including the three Provinces of Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata; while also being strong enough to support the weight of heavy trucks.
Over the next five years, the 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.
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, all the Staff and Contractor Fulton Hogan for the successful execution of this project.
It gives me great pleasure now to officially open the new Korovuli Bridge!
Thank you and God bless us all.