My Field Experience

The Suva Road Upgrade Project 2 (SARUP) site inspections proved to be remarkable experience for me.  Whilst I had been filled with excitement to be part of the team that would capture the existing services along 17 different roads within the Suva – Nausori corridor, there had also been troubling thoughts that ran alongside my enthusiasm.  These thoughts were born from the ongoing pandemic which included questions like, “How can we keep ourselves safe from the virus?”, “What do we do if we are infected?” and “How can we keep our loved ones safe if we are exposed to the virus?”.  The Covid19 pandemic reached Fiji shores resulting in desolate towns and cities from the national lockdown.  Even though the government had established a contact tracing system, there still remained doubts and fears in carrying out the site inspections.  The SARUP 2 site inspections would be an experience I would never forget.

To protect Staff from the virus, an OHS safety guideline had been prepared and specifically tailored to combat the known ways which the virus could be transmitted.  These included maintaining social distancing, sanitizing regularly, disinfecting all equipment used on site, as well as wearing masks and gloves in addition to the regular personal protective equipment (PPE) which consisted of long sleeve shirts, long pants, hats, safety boots and glasses.  This regulation kept Staff safe throughout the duration of the site inspections.

The weather in Suva is unpredictable thus creating different challenges on a daily basis.  On some days, the scorching heat would cause us to bathe in our sweat and make it difficult to breathe through with our masks on.  On other days, the heavy downpour of rain would soak our PPE despite wearing raincoats and using umbrellas.  Each day on site was different and this made the inspections particularly interesting.

At the end of the day, the inspection team would return to the Office to clean up before being dispatched to our respective homes.  Having endeavored to meet our daily targets brought about a victorious feeling that resulted in a good night’s rest.  Unexpectedly, the SARUP 2 inspections turned out to be my favorite memory of year 2020, where we got to learn more about the existing services that lies beneath the ground and more importantly, about teamwork.  Looking back to reflect on this experience, I know I would definitely put my name down for similar inspections in the future!

Author: Tulia Katafono

September 2020

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