This Maukean, who has lived on Mauke for more than 30 years, lives on a busy main road which is dusty and suffocating and my family has prayed for the day when this road will be sealed. It would be a dream come true if the roads, especially the ones in the main villages of Oiretumu and Kimiangatau, were sealed. It doesn’t have to be sealed with melting tar, which is difficult and expensive to source.
There are other alternatives, such as concrete (as I’ve seen in atolls of French Polynesia), or resin-like stuff used on outback roads in Australia. The materials used to repair concrete roads are actually quite cheap and easy to source. It would definitely reduce the need for heavy machinery to keep re-grading the roads after every rain.
A sealed road will reduce the dust flying in the air and getting into our lungs and houses every day. We are sick of breathing in the fine dust, wiping down the interior of our houses and having to hose down the road in front of our property during the dry season.
It is okay for Mrs Hosking who lives on a quiet side of the island on a road which is not much used by traffic. She has the luxury of breathing good, clean air while the rest of us do not. By all means don’t seal the rest of the island’s roads in those less inhabited areas to keep it looking attractive for those people who like that sort of thing. Some Maukeans actually like the signs of progress and modernity, which includes a sealed road. So bring it on deputy prime minister Mark Brown!
Since most of us drive motorbikes, it would be nice to be able to travel without dust blowing in our faces every time we use the road. Pedestrians would like it better too. Driving behind another motor vehicle is always a nightmare – especially if you are on a bike, following behind a truck. You have to wear a gas mask with your wraparound glasses.
Keeping roads in poor condition to make people drive slowly is not a good enough reason not to fix the roads. Slow driving is not always safer driving. We want some of our tax dollars spent on our island too, the same way Atiu, Aitutaki and Rarotonga have. If people have road accidents, they are more likely caused by the instability and unevenness of sandy roads and the deep trenches that sometimes develop in them, especially after rain. Some roads become unusable after rain. The roads in their current condition are a hazard to life and limb.
The climate change effects Mrs Hosking speaks of have already developed due to the fact many trees on the island were cut down in the 1990s to make charcoal for sale. The solution would be to plant more trees (and stop cutting down what is left, except for the invasive acacia).
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