I read with much excitement the recent announcement of the SIG and multi-donor funding arrangement for the Makira road rehabilitation project.
This arrangement has been a long overdue wait for our good people; of which appreciation and gratitude must be given to those with the foresight and vision to finalise this initiative.
This initiative once completed will surely contribute to rural economic development increasing the livelihood and standard of family life, well for part of the Makira Ulawa Province anyway.
However, a reservation of mine is the fact that the road construction will involve community members along the various segments of road adjacent to community vicinity.
The vision of engaging people to build the roads has employment and funds pumped into villages as part of; community development, empowerment, ownership and contributes to raising standard of village life.
Whilst I agree that the intentions are good, there are some factors that need to be considered.
This same application was approved and carried out the European Economic Community (EEC), now referred to as European Union (EU) on South Malaita for road construction. It was initially good but the conditions of road compared to machine built roads are by far the worst of all roads.
I encourage project staff to visit Small Malaita and interview people there and have a look at the overgrown and unused road that is in shocking condition.
A repeat of this scenario would be devastating for our good people of Makira.
This is a classic example and lesson learnt that the project team should have learnt from. South Malaita remains economically under par and yet millions were pumped into the same project with similar goal and objectives as this recent announcement.
Secondly, during period of road construction, shouldn't our people be concentrating on up-scaling agricultural production in anticipation of good transport access and opening up markets?
This is all linked to good quality road infrastructure - machine built.
With the man power (men and women) that should be driving the economic base engaged with road construction, periodically; that other objectives of the project as envisioned would be affected, creating a gap in agriculture production and own family food security hence; transportation if available thereafter would also be affected given the limited produce and funds to use service.
As when an individual is engaged with the road construction, wages earned will also go towards food and other living needs, because individuals will not be engaged in garden, marketing of produce or other means to earn funds. No garden production or produce means need for money to support one's self or family. hence wages will be spent; logic- no savings.
Please note that I have made this connection from reading the project development report (feasibility and consultative study) by ADB on-line, hence there are contradictions implicated here as well as common sense being my analytical basis for this prediction.
The use of people sounds like a small scale project to keep people engaged for prolonged period of time and is also insulting to the intelligence of our people. It sounds more like Makira people should be quite for the period of road construction, which sounds like years and years for completion of the road using man power.
Realistically speaking the soil contents along the various coastal sections would mean man power work would easy deteriorate as sand and granitite stone are a tricky combination for man power to effectively manage or build a road on to.
However; the construction of the bridges does sound outstanding, much appreciated with utmost respect.
These are just some of my personal thoughts and are in no way a reflection that the Makira rehabilitation of road project isn't a worthwhile initiative.
We at most need such developments but with quality measures in place.
Tangio tumas and Mauru Koro
Makira Road Rehabilitation
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Jack Waisi and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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