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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 28) - Work on the reconstruction of roads linking Solomon Islands’ Auki to some parts of Malaita is found to be progressing well.

This followed a visit to the road linking Auki and Fulisango yesterday by a RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands] and Community Sector Program delegation yesterday to Auki.

[PIR editor’s note: Auki, capital of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita, is on the island’s northwest coast.]

The delegation is led by RAMSI special coordinator James Batley. Work on the existing roads include re-leveling the road with solid gravel and rocks, and proper culvert.

The construction is part of a post conflict rehabilitation program carried out by the Australian government through the Community Sector Program (CSP).

The delegation included Mr. Batley, Stuart Schaeffer Deputy Coordinator AusAID/RAMSI, Dr. Frens Arentz CSP Team Leader, RAMSI military officers and officers from the Special Coordinator’s Office. One of the supervisors told the delegation that work on the Auki-Fulisango road is expected to be over soon. However, he said that would depend entirely on the weather forecast.

According to Arentz, the cost of the road construction for Malaita is about US$45 million with support from United National Development Program (UNDP). Road work is conducted by the Ministry of Infrastructure with support from CSP, which is providing heavy plant equipment for construction exercise.

Premier of Malaita Reuben Moli yesterday acknowledged the support from the Australian government through RAMSI and CSP for the assistance in improving the roads. Moli said the reconstruction of the roads had been a great relief for the people of Malaita to be able to travel to the provincial capital by road to sell their produce.

"Road link helps a lot of farmers and at the same time boost the local economy," Moli said. Batley congratulated CSP and Malaita Province for the work on the road project so far. After the inspection, Batley said there had been massive change and facelift in the status of roads in the province.

Plans are underway to reconstruct the road to Su’u and a 300-kilometer road across the island from Auki. Also during the trip yesterday to Auki, Batley also officially opened the CSP office in Auki.

The office will concentrate on the road projects in the province. The office was located next to the works department compound to enable CSP officers to work with the works department in the implementation of the road projects into the next few years.

September 29, 2006

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