A newly constructed foot-crossing bridge and the second and third Hop-Skip & Jump project to be completed was commissioned in Barotu Village in Rakiraki today.
200 villagers of Barotu are expected to benefit from this second and third Hop-Skip & Jump foot-crossing project as it is likely to ease and improve accessibility for the village.
Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy while commissioning the crossing reiterated the Fijian Government’s commitment to the protection and development of rural and maritime communities.
“Rural and maritime communities play a very critical role in the overall growth and development agenda of Fiji and that is where most of the critical primary economic activity such as agriculture takes place.
“Therefore it is imperative that we reach out to them and provide them with the basic infrastructure that will contribute towards their development,” he said.
Reddy stressed that initiatives such as the foot crossing program were a National priority to assist rural and outer island communities meet their basic needs, improve living standards and quality of life towards becoming self-sufficient.
Minister Reddy also reiterated the need for villagers to safeguard their environment from degradation and to refrain from unnecessary deforestation, highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy mangrove and ridge for the safety and livelihood of the village.
Elders of the village were also encouraged to teach their children to keep away from drugs and illegal activities as it would have negative impacts for the village’s future.
The project under the Ministry of Waterways and Environment has been implemented as part of the “Hop-Skip & Jump’’ foot-crossing program which was recently announced four months ago.
Barotu village headman Maciusela Tulewa acknowledged the Government’s contribution towards the development of their rural community.
“This is a very big help to villagers as the whole village faced difficulty in crossing, especially children and women, who had no choice but to cross over on a piece of timber and a coconut trunk, we’re truly very grateful for this assistance which has been a long time request from our community,” he said
“Villagers used to carry their household items like shopping across a piece of timber or tree trunk, which posed risks during inclement weather. Now as this crossing has been done it will allow children and elderly people of the village to move around easily in the village.
The foot crossing bridge will also consist of solar lights which will allow the villagers to have a cross safely during the night time.
100 coconut seedlings were also distributed to the village as part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Food Security Program.