A BAILEY bridge to temporarily replace the destroyed Mataniko bridge is just what Honiara needs at this time.
So we thank the great country of New Zealand and its people for offering to build one.
Honiara’s traffic congestion was made terribly worse by the destruction of the old bridge in the April 3 devastating flash floods that killed at least 21 people.
Although the two-lane bridge downstream suffered considerable damage to its eastern end, it remained standing and is now the only bridge connecting the city.
But the daily build-up of traffic from the bridge to as far as Kukum in the east shows the traffic situation is getting worse.
And it continues to get worse by the day.
There is now no other way to travel from east to west of the city except via this one remaining bridge.
This is impacting negatively on people’s movement.
Furthermore, businesses that need to move large consignment of goods could not do so due to the current state of the bridge, which can only take vehicles of up to 30 tonnes.
So there is no longer a free movement of people and cargo in the city.
Thankfully, New Zealand, whose assistance to the flood disaster so far has surpassed $10 million, saw the urgency of a temporary bridge.
Its Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully announced over the weekend that its transport authority will bring the bridge over to Honiara and have it built.
New Zealand has also offered to pay for the contractor who will build the bridge.
And it hopes that by the end of next month, this bailey bridge should be opened to traffic.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo was quick to come to New Zealand’s praise.
“I am extremely happy with the New Zealand Government’s quick positive response to my request and I wish to thank them for that,” Mr Lilo said in a statement yesterday.
He said New Zealand’s response is highly appreciated, as the bridge is very critical in ensuring that the city is fully connected to allow business to return to normal in the city, especially in Chinatown.
New Zealand’s intervention is this critical infrastructure undertaking should be able to ease the worsening traffic situation while we wait for Japan to finalise its proposed Kukum Highway project.
Under the project, Japan will build a new two-lane bridge to replace the destroyed one.
This undertaking was announced well before the floods.
The project will also see the expansion of the existing two-lane bridge to four-lance, enlargement of the Honiara City Council round-about, and reconstruction of the three-kilometre road from the city council to Kukum.
Japanese engineers and planners have already completed studies on the project.
They are now back in Japan and should return to Honiara before the year’s end with the final plan for discussion and approval by the national government.
Work is expected to start next year.
So it’s a project that’s worth waiting for.