The island community of Qoma off the northern coasts of Tailevu will now enjoy safer community access after the opening of their new foot crossing by the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development, Inia Seruiratu today.
With a population of over 150 people, the people of Qoma dwell on two separate islands that are separated by 80 meters of seawater – Qoma Island and ‘Taikadua’. The new foot crossing now directly connects the two sister islands.
Speaking in iTaukei to community members, Seruiratu reiterated Government’s commitment in ensuring that adults and children alike have safe access and mobility around their dwelling places.
Seruiratu today credited the completion of the foot crossing to the involvement of community members in the construction phase.
“The construction of the foot crossing exemplifies Government’s principle of public-private partnership.”
“Development is a work of partnership – partnership between the government and its people together with religion”, the Minister said.
Maraia Kacikaci, a grandmother of 8 who was present at the commissioning today, said her grand-children will no longer walk through sea waters or need boat transfers to attend kindergarten school.
She said, “Our first cement crossing was torn in half and completely damaged by Cyclone Winston and after a wait of two years, we’re glad that government has fulfilled its promise to us”.
Similar sentiments were mentioned by Amali Kalou who said it was impossible to travel across to the other island during rough seas.
She said, “We know that the two islands are close but we didn’t know how much easier life would be for us now that we have this foot crossing”.
Implemented by the Office of the Divisional Commissioner Central at a cost of $49,000, the foot crossing is funded of the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development’s Community Access Roads, Footpaths, and Foot Bridges (CARFF) Program.
The CARFF program is focused on lifting socio-economic standards by improving access within communities.