Leone residents relieved

By Ilia L Likou ,

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BACK THEN: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Fatialofa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi is pictured here showing Australian Senator Brett Mason the damage to the bridge after Cyclone Evan in 2012.

BACK THEN: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Fatialofa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi is pictured here showing Australian Senator Brett Mason the damage to the bridge after Cyclone Evan in 2012.

Residents at Leonē are cautiously optimistic that their businesses will soon be back to normal after the government announcement they will begin rebuilding the bridge next month.

Leonē businesswoman, Mrs. Anita Wilson was delighted when the government announced the fixing of the long waited bridge at Leonē.

“A meeting was held earlier this year with government officials,” she said.

“It was there that they informed us that construction of the bridge would begin in June.

“As a businesswoman, I was very happy because my business was one of many around this area that was closed after cyclone Evan.

“My family relied heavily on the business for our source of income but it totally disappeared when the bridge closed,

“I believe that our business was not the only one affected.

Mrs. Wilson said that her biggest hope is for the bridge to be completed as soon as possible.

“We’re ready to get back to our normal business and family commitments once the construction is completed.

“We’re also looking to get our customers back.

“I want to thank the Prime Minister and the government; it is a great relief.

Another resident, Sauta Tolua, said the failure to restore the bridge in a timely manner resulted in a huge impact on the nearby villages.

“We need the bridge,” he said.

“I guess at least we now have something to look forward to, 

"All businesses in the area were affected...it’s like some things just stopped after we lose the bridge.

“We’re hoping that everything will return to normal once the new bridge is in place.

Cabinet has awarded the building contract to the China Railway First Group Fiji Co. Ltd. for thereconstruction.

The tender was advertised for public interest and four companies submitted bids.

An assessment was conducted by the Sub Committee before a recommendation was tabled before Cabinet for the final decision.

In 2013, Anita Wilson, was very disappointed at the continued failure by government to rebuild the bridge.

"After cyclone Evan, they started appearing with all these long lenses on their cameras, but it seems like they only surveyed Leonē Bridge for plans to construct other bridges," said Ms. Wilson.

"This is sick, we don’t want photographers; we want engineers to rebuild and construct the bridge."

"I am a business woman and it has slowed down money our family gets from customers, and I am not just talking about myself, but the rest of those people around this area."

"As you can see, those are the logs that have been lying there since then. It is like ‘golden logs’ in memory of cyclone Evan," she said.

Instead of carrying customers bringing money, the damaged bridge was now attracting youths bringing booze, she said.

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