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Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is surrounded by children before the cutting of the cake to celebrate the opening of Nailega District School rehabilitated kindergarten in Wainibuka, Tailevu, on July 24, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga
July 25
11:05 2017

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he will not put lives of students at risk.

He said Government would build schools to last.

He said: “95 per cent of schools we are rebuilding from Cyclone Winston were built with no structurally approved plans, leaving our students vulnerable to climate-related catastrophe.

“We can’t afford to rebuild to that standard, because to do so would stick us in a costly cycle of rebuilding year after year, and put the lives of our students at risk.

“I’m not prepared to let that happen.”

He was speaking at the opening of a new classroom building at Naiyala High School, Wainibuka, Tailevu, yesterday morning.

In the afternoon, he did the same at Nailega District School.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with the students of Naiyala High School on July 24, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with the students of Naiyala High School on July 24, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Today, Mr Bainimarama will open 17 new classroom buildings that were rebuilt and upgraded at the Dobuilevu Muslim School, Tataiya Primary School and Naseyani Primary School.

“None of these school projects are not simple rebuilds.

“These schools have all been reconstructed to a far higher standard, worthy of the students who rely on them and more resilient to the severe effects of climate change.

“And this reopening of Naiyala High School represents an investment of over$340,000 by my Government to bring it to a climate-resilient level of construction.

“Wainibuka saw the full brunt of the destructive force of Cyclone Winston last year, and the students of Naiyala – along with countless other young people throughout our islands – were on the frontlines of the brutal winds and torrential rains that devastated vast stretches of Fiji.

“So I know I don’t need to remind anyone here of the heartbreak and misery that the cyclone brought to our shores, because your community experienced that first-hand.

“In the wake of the cyclone, I was in villages and communities all over Fiji, leading relief teams and assessing the extent of the damage and destruction. It was a trying time for the Fijian people, as we mourned those we lost to the storm and began to pick up the pieces of communities that had been brought to their knees. But even in the midst of that suffering and tragedy, I could still see that the resilience of the Fijian spirit was undiminished.

“My Government isn’t just rebuilding, we are building back better. Every school we reconstruct is being built to code to withstand severe weather events. Yes, it has taken time. But, yes, it is well worth it.

“Still, even though we know storms like Winston are only going to get worse, many in the Opposition do not share our vision for a more resilient Fiji. They only think short-term, and want us to rush this process along. But that would compromise the safety and security of ordinary Fijians. That is not responsible and that is not true leadership.

“My Government isn’t taking the easy road. We aren’t hurrying to put up schools that will only stand for a year, or for a single term in office.

“We are building a Fiji that will last, schools that will stand for generations, homes that can be depended on to keep our people sheltered and infrastructure that can be relied upon in times of crisis.

“We are making steady and unrelenting progress towards that goal, and we have a clear game plan for building back Fiji better than it was.”


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