A sorry ride to the east

East road pics taken in 2014IT has been neglected for far too long and the condition of the road is deteriorating from bad to worse.

I recently visited my East Malaita home and witnessed that the road that links the populated east Malaita region to the west is in its worst state that vehicles are normally pushed by passengers to get over huge, deep pools and muddy swamps that covered the road.

Not only that, but there are also poor and dangerous bridges at the Kwaiafa river and Founaki stream.

East Kwara’ae is one of the most populated regions of Malaita.

It is normally an enjoyable ride when the road was in good condition.

But it seems those days have gone.

While the time to get from the western region of the Island to the east sometimes takes only a couple of hours, the deteriorated state of the road now makes travelling long, irritating, and uncomfortable.

But the beauty of the mountains and rivers that one can see during the rides still remains.

The region boasts beautiful decors and the highest bridge (Kwarea Bridge) in Malaita that many normally look forward to see during their travels across the island.

The area has limited access to infrastructure services like market and roads.

Telecommunication services are not a problem. The region access the full coverage of Bmobile-Vodafone and Our Telekom networks.

In terms of wharfs and airport infrastructure, East Kwara’ae has none apart from areas like northeast side and Atoifi in the east Kwaio region.

Though in the past years there’s an attempt to build an airport in East Kwara’ae at Abuana’ai, land dispute messed up the proposed development.

Only Atoifi has a proper wharf and airstrip in this part of the province.

And to access those infrastructures, it costs poor villagers in the East Kwara’ae region between $500 to $1,000 for hiring an out-board motor-driven canoe.

The Atori road is the only land linkage to provincial capital Auki, but with the current bad state of the road, people barely get to Auki to take part in economical activities.

2016 picx-Portion of the road that was damageA feeder road that joins from Atori main road to Aufasu along the Kwaibaita Valley is deteriorating and now needs urgent repair to ensure smooth travelling by the communities that usually access it.

It is a fact that passengers have to push vehicles several times before reaching their destination when there is bad weather (rain) which directs a need to build proper drainages and upgrading.

If the government continues to neglect this region road infrastructure, then they are denying East Malaita people from participating in economical activities.

It is something that the communities within that region will not accept, because similar situation had affected the region in 2014.

This is something the government should by now take immediate action to address.

As experienced in 2014 the problem of deteriorating road condition has affected everyone living in that region as small canteens normally run out of vital stocks for weeks and months.

The issue of road access has been a long standing issue faced by people of that region of Malaita when it comes to road repair.

An elderly man spoken to during my visit claimed that sometimes it takes them two days to get to Auki.

“One has to stay overnight along the journey before accessing the main road which vehicles reluctantly want to take.

“We have to travel some distance to board trucks to go to Auki.

“Sometimes it will take us a different day to travel to sleep with other relatives who stay close to the road for pick up the next morning,” he said.

During that trip, I witnessed old people carrying heavy goods and cargoes for miles to get home.

Although Faumamanu hosts a small commercial meeting centre where locals used to sell their products, it is a village and has no shops and other services needed by people.

This population is therefore left out from economical activities when it comes to road disruption, which can stimulate growth for people and the nation.

It is therefore vital that leaders return to witness the difficulty and suffering faced by these rural folks.

Infrastructure is the key to economic development and if there is no infrastructure, there is no growth.

And people will continue to be spectators when it comes to economic participation.