Outer Islands Road Upgrading Project

Outer Islands Road Upgrading Project, Kiribati.

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Upgrading of outer Islands roads is one of the manifesto of the current government to improve outer Islands Infrastructure to enhance social and economic activities. The objective of the project is consistent with the current Government’s goals and strategies as highlighted in the Kiribati Development Plan 2016-2019 Goal 6, “to improve access to quality climate change resilient infrastructure in urban and rural areas” by “undertaking to complete the implementation of the roads and airfields upgrading in the outer islands”. It also creates the foundation “to improve and facilitate tourism and fisheries development and improve quality of life for the outer island communities” as stipulated in the Government KV20.

Road upgrading project in Butaritari is the initial phase of the Outer Islands Road Upgrading Project that is solely funded by the Government of Kiribati and implemented by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy (MISE).

Butaritari Island is one of the Northern Islands in the Gilbert groups located at latitude 03º09’N of the equator and longitude 172º50’E with a population of 4,346 as per the 2010 pop census. The communities are linked to each other by roughly 3 meters wide and 33 km long single unsealed (compacted reef mud) road that stretched from Kuma to Ukiangang.

The proposed construction works is to upgrade the current existing roads to 6 meters wide and 33 km long and tar sealing using the Single Bitumen Surface Treatment (SBST). The design for the road construction applying the SBST method would include sufficient camber to the carriageway so the rainwater runs off the surface to the sides to ensure quicker drying time and longer life of the roads. The main material requirement for bitumen sealed roads will be reef-mud, sand and aggregate for sub-base and base-course. However, their extraction will be made away from where the communities reside and least destructive to the mangroves where inshore fish breeds and to shore lines to avoid erosions. Extraction will be conducted close to natural channels and boat channels so improve flow of flushing of the lagoon and nutrients and facilitate navigation by local fishermen. Clearing of vegetation at road sides will be kept to the minimum so as to minimize it impacts on food sources and compensation for loss of food crops.  Discharge of excess bitumen and used oils will be deposited where it will be least harmful and possibly utilized more usefully at Councils’ court yard or other designated areas.

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