Bridge to nowhere
A bridge connecting a Muainaweni Settlement in Naitasiri to main centres collapsed yesterday affecting about 200 people.
According to witnesses a 19 tonne truck carting gravel crossed the 80-year-old bridge at midday when the beams broke under its weight.
While the fastest access to the main road is through Nacokaika Village and out from Navatuvula Village, farmer Anjesh Prasad said they prefered the other route because transport services were more frequent.
Mr Prasad, who has two secondary school students, said the broken bridge not only provided access to the nearest schools, but also to the hospital and the market to sell their produce.
“They should at least put a sign on the bridge on the weight of the vehicles that are allowed to cross or better still they should not allow big trucks to cross this bridge because this is an old bridge.”
Mr Prasad said while there were minor repairs and maintenance work carried out on the bridge, the 80-year-old beams remained.
When a team from The Fiji Times visited the scene six hours after the incident, about 100 people gathered to witness Fulton Hogan officials and contractors trying to winch the truck from a creek.
Mother of one Rohini Chand, 38, hopes the bridge is repaired before the start of the new school year.
“The RSL vehicles always come and pick our children in front of our homes, now I have to walk my child to his school at Shantari Pathshala Primary School, which is 20 minutes away,” she said.
Her husband, Shiri Chand, a farmer, said the broken bridge could result in the family’s income reduced by half.
“Before I can just load the produce near my farm and earn $200 in a week, now I have to carry them across before I get a ride to reach the market.”
Fiji Roads Authority communications officer Onarina Umu said the FRA would release a statement after a thorough investigation into the collapse of the bridge.
She said the timeline to restoring access would be determined following the damage assessment.
Source : Fiji Connect Lounge. 1/7/2016