A CLUSTER OF TRUCKS

The on-again-off-again roundabout at Freswota is raising road safety concerns.

In early December, the Vanuatu Project Management Unit announced that, as of December 14 2017, the Freswota intersection would be operating as a roundabout, similar in operation to the one at Nambatu.

Their intention to do so had been signalled months before. In a March 2017 feature, the Daily Post cited the Design, Supervision and Capacity Development Team, whose role is to bridge the gap between RMS and the Vanuatu Project Management Unit, indicating that the turnoff would be normalised before long.

That hasn’t happened.

Worse, it almost kind of sort of happened, then it un-happened. Now, drivers heading to Freswota have more choices than is entirely safe for them.

The Daily Post sent repeated requests about how things managed to get so bent out of shape, but the Vanuatu Project Management Unit, department under the Prime Minister’s office that oversees the project, offered no explanation.

Beginning in early November last year, the Daily Post began sending requests for a status update on the project. None has been forthcoming to date.

The roads and drainage elements of the Port Vila Urban Development Project have been bedevilled by problems from the very beginning. Delays in getting started resulted in a AU $4 million reduction in available funds when the dollar plunged relative to the Vanuatu Vatu. Driving conditions in some parts of town became downright dangerous. Insiders complained to the Daily Post of chronic delays, and questioned the contractor’s ability to complete the work on time, on budget and meeting project requirements.

The Freswota debacle is symptomatic of the kind of inconsistency that has characterised the work from the beginning. Instead of a smoothly running roundabout, we have a situation that in some ways is worse than the way it was before.

Rather than flowing naturally, traffic is now pushed into a chokepoint directly opposite the Intraco car dealership where vehicles moving in 4 different directions have to rely on the courtesy of other drivers to merge, often crossing directly in front of one another.

One lane was inexplicably blocked a few days after the roundabout was supposed to come on line, making it impossible to use the traffic fixture the way it was intended. No notice was issued, no announcement made. For nearly a month now, drivers have contended with this madness while RMS and VPMU went on vacation.

More questions than answers

In a March interview with the Daily Post, members of the project team outlined a number of key features of the road surface and drainage aspects of the Port Vila Urban Development Project, which were supposed to have been completed at the end of 2017

Manples Market

Overflow from Ohlen and Seven Star will be partially diverted to undeveloped space behind ABM Manples. Concreted roadway will be elevated by nearly 1 metre, so that inundation should not occur more than once every 24 months.

Status: No sign of progress

Fatumaru

Drainage, with filters and solid waste traps from roadway down to the head of the bay.

Status: Largely complete

Europe Corner

T-intersection with right of way given to traffic bypassing CBD.

Status: Complete, but causing significant road hazards with vehicles regularly blocking lanes in two directions; problems with turning radius of some trucks

Stade turn-off

Bypass lane to improve traffic flow.

Status: No sign of progress

Netball courts

Stormwater drainage and infiltration system.

Status: Largely complete; concerns about effectiveness, mosquito hazard in nearby sport facilities

Freswota roundabout

Circular traffic flow instead of Y intersection.

Status: Unclear; clustered trucks causing road safety concerns

USP roundabout

Tassiriki turn-out simplified and clarified.

Status: No sign of progress

Colardeau corner

Bypass lane to improve traffic flow Improved bus stop.

Status: Unfinished. (In September, work in this area was supposed to be finished in ‘4-5 weeks’)

Opposite tropical market

Stormwater drainage and infiltration system.

Status: Unclear

Saralana turn-out

Improved sidewalks and kerbs. New bus stop beside the bandstand.

Status: Unfinished.

Churchill drive near Central School

Traffic ‘calming’, raised crossing for students Cement ‘axle-breaker’ speed bumps removed.

Status: No sign of progress

George Kalsakau drive

Additional landscaping and improvements to integrate with Seafront beautification work.

Status: Done

Central Business District

Resurfacing and repairs only; kerbs, pavements and footpaths deferred to a later (unspecified) phase.

Status: Preliminary resurfacing to one road; otherwise no sign of progress

Fatumaru bay near Anchor Inn

New public toilet facilities.

Status: Done

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