Dear Editor,

Having involved in the inception of the Solomon Islands Road Improvement Project (SIRIP), i would just like to clarify the misconception by the media and others who have contributed to the discussions that "new" roads are going to be constructed by labour-based methods in this particular project under the road component. First of all, no "NEW" roads are going to be constructed under this project as far as i understand it. This project is a road "IMPROVEMENT" project, which means that a road already existed and just needs to be improved and then sustained through periodic maintanence by labour-based methods with the supervision of qualified engineers. Of course if there needs to be a relocation of a river-crossing then a "new" road has to be constructed to this new river-crossing site. When this happens, then of course qualified contractors will be used to carry out the new road construction.

I suppose one of the aims of this project is to instill in the Provincial Authorities the habit of doing periodic mentainance of its assets, particularly roads long after the project is over. Hopefully, by the time this project is over the roads will be in better conditions where they can be sustainably maintained by the beneficiary Province.

We as the beneficiery of these projects should also start taking ownership of these infrastructure assets and start treating them as our own. For example, if there is an urgent task that don't require technical skills/tools like a blocked drain/culvert near your village, the community should take the initiative to clear out the drains/culverts before it overflows and destroy the road. A simple vegetation control in the drains can do wonders in maintaining a well-drained road.

After all, we are the ones using these roads, not the aid-donors. We can build the best roads but without strategies for proper periodic maintanance, it will be back to square one, where we require millons from aid-donors for improvements instead of just a few thousands of dollars where we can afford for maintenance. Let's appreciate what's been offered to us and make the most of it.

Looking forward to a much smoother ride from Kira Kira to Hao next time i'm home!