500 meters above sea level, it is easy to get taken in by the panoramic sea views across Wainunu Bay into the Koro Sea.
But that’s exactly the backdrop that a 12 member Fulton Hogan Hiways team, contracted by the Fiji Roads Authority draw their strength from, as they carry out much needed road stabilization works.
The area they have been tasked to complete is a treacherous 1.15 kilometer incline in Solevu, Bua.
“What we are doing now is a traction seal, by adding a cement base to add strength for the road itself,” says Meli Kapaiwai, FHH’s Northern Construction Foreman.
He explains that cement stabilization uses a higher percentage of stiff and rigid materials, making the road surface more durable and resistant during prolonged wet conditions.
He says previously even during a slight downpour, buses would struggle up the steep hill because of the slippery conditions.
“When there is heavy rain for a few days, the bus operator here refuses to use the road for fear of slipping off the steep incline,” he said.
Because of the distance from their FHH Savusavu Depot, 140 kilometers or 2 and half hours away, the team have been camping at Solevu Village.
The same road was used by pioneering missionaries to build the historic Solevu Catholic Church in 1861, 157 years ago.
“Every day we are thanked by the villagers from this Solevu area as well as Nawaido, Makolei and even some from Vuya, who say they are impressed with the improved road condition from what it was before,” says Kapaiwai.
The road is the main thoroughfare for up to 10 villages in the area that travel frequently to Nabouwalu as well as to Savusavu, via Naibalebale.
“We have deployed a road stabilizer, a grader and a compactor as well as a bit of water injection after we spread the cement for compaction,” he adds.
Kapaiwai says the improved road condition will also mean that villagers using it will have to exercise more caution.