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Vital link for commerce on Weathercoast

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 6, 2008) – A Weathercoast community has come together with the RAMSI military and police and local police to restore a bridge badly damaged during an earthquake.

The Koghabugha Bridge, on an important track leading to Marasa Beach, was damaged when the earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit in June.

Marasa Beach is the port of call for local boat services. People walk as far as 10 kilometres to reach it. Cash crops such as copra and cocoa are conveyed to Marasa Beach to await the arrival of a boat for transport to market in Honiara.

The road is also a vital link for the RAMSI and local police based at Mbambanakira to perform regular quad bike patrols at Marasa Beach.

They also assist when villagers with life-threatening injuries or illnesses need to be referred to Honiara for treatment.

The problem was brought to the fore during a routine patrol conducted by the RAMSI military in Mbambanakira.

Without delay a team of New Zealand military was dispatched to assist the local community by repairing their bridge.

Participating Police Force advisors Victor Sangalang and Simon Miller, working with their local colleagues at the police post offered to help in any way they could.

Mr Miller said local police officers Staff Sergeant Nixon Manegaua and Constable Humphrey Rugu were in the thick of things, doing their part for the community and the villagers.

He said: "And we assisted the New Zealand Defence Force team by driving the quad bikes on numerous runs to and from Marasa beach for loads of stones, giving a hand in moving culverts and performing any other tasks to try and help out."

When the team started work they soon discovered that the bridge needed more work than first realised.

After clearing away overgrown weeds and shrubs they could see that six concrete culverts weighing hundreds of kilograms had shifted in the quake. This caused water to back up and wash away the foundations and support of the roadbed.

The bridge was reconstructed with six concrete culverts, five large coconut tree logs and several tons of rocks and clay. All of which were shaped and moved by hand over one-week.

The bridge was completed quickly, much to the delight of everyone who had chipped in to help.

The community thanked RAMSI for their assistance. Chief Michael Bosawai of Koghabugha and Chief Anseto Tuvi of Marasa spoke on behalf of their people in conveying their gratitude.

They said they thanked RAMSI for the new bridge as this will certainly help their people in many ways.

Solomon Star:

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