To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

North Malaita travel times drastically reduced

By Anne McCaig

Travelling from village to town in North Malaita has become easier after the completion of road improvements from Auki to Malu’u. Immediately after the tension period the 80km trip took six gruelling hours. Today, the same trip takes just two hours.

The improvements are part of a $3 million community support project in Malaita funded by RAMSI and implemented in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government.

Acting RAMSI Development Coordinator, Stuart Schaefer, said the project was a classic bottom-up approach.

“The community actively raised the issue of the poor state of the road through requests to their provincial government, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development then acted in partnership with RAMSI to improve the road”, he said.

“Roads are important for joining communities together and improving people’s lives. Roads allow people to access markets, schools, health centres and agricultural services”, he said.

Road Engineer, Martin Wale, said the road was in a terrible condition before the road maintenance project began.

“After the tension, a lack of proper maintenance and drainage caused pot-holes and gullies in the road sometimes more than one metre deep. In some cases trucks got stuck and people had to push their vehicles through the mud up hills.

The project involved road maintenance, bridge maintenance, and culvert and drainage improvement. The North Malaita road has now been re-surfaced from Gwaunaru’u to Malu’u sub-station.

Mr Schaefer said the road improvements complement the bridge rehabilitation work being undertaken by the Post Conflict Emergence Road Project.

“We expect travel times will be further reduced with road works continuing in 2007”, he said.

Mr Schaefer thanked the local villagers for their support of the project and wished people travelling home on the road for Christmas with their family and friends, a safe and happy journey.

“Successful projects like this one demonstrate what can be achieved through trust, cooperation and partnership between rural communities, the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI.”

Source: RAMSI

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