The impact of the April flooding is still easily visible around the China Town area in Honiara. The old China Town bridge, which was washed away in the disaster, has left quite a hole in the Honiara landscape. As well as being a beautiful old bridge, it served the community with the flow of pedestrian traffic in addition to the cars.
As often in Solomon Islands, where there is a problem, there is generally also an entrepreneurial person, using their initiative to create a (temporary) solution. This is certainly the case across the Mataniko River. Where the bridge used to be, ropes have been tied to each side. Boats, or large polystyrene blocks, are being used to ferry the passengers across the water, with someone pulling the vehicle along using the rope. The ‘drivers’ are wearing gloves to ensure their hands are not damaged during each trip. Large poles are also being used to push themselves across from side to side.
Support structures have been built to add to the passenger experience. A make-shift jetty has been constructed on the side closest to the town and a ladder built to help passengers make their way up to China Town from the river bank.
At the time of writing, a one-way trip was priced around $1 – $2 and the service seems to be being well utilised. A large excavator is working close by on building up the soil where the bridge used to be. There is also still some debris along the sides of the river so readers are advice to exercise caution if making the journey.