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Big Waterways Boost

Big Waterways  Boost
Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is handed over the custom-made stamps to mark Fiji’s presidency of COP23 by Deutsche Post’s (DHL) Pedro Munoz (fourth from left) in Bonn, Germany. Also pictured are the members of the Fiji Police Force band. Photo: Office of the Attorney-General
November 10
13:11 2017

The German government will help Fiji draw up a blueprint for waterways management in the country.

And, Fiji is seeking experts in hydrology to be seconded to the Ministry of Waterways for about two years to build up local capacity and to pass on their expertise.

On the margins of COP23, which is currently underway in Bonn, Germany, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum met top officials from the German International Cooperation Ministry (GMBH) and the head of the international water policy division of GIZ, Ulrike Pokorski da Cunha, on Wednesday where positive talks took place about how Germany will help Fiji modernise its waterways.

In the last budget, the formation of the Ministry of Waterways was announced, which is under Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Germany will assist through this Ministry and some of the areas it will look into is river dredging.

Prior to the formation of the Ministry of Waterways, work related to waterways was carried out through a division within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Speaking to the Fiji Sun after the meeting, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “We obviously need to take a modern approach to water management in Fiji and be able to develop the capacity and expertise within the new Ministry of Waterways, to ensure that we mitigate some of the risks from encroaching waters, whether it is on the coastal areas, or in particular, in this case, the river systems that we do have.

“As you know, Government started some dredging however we need to have a consolidated approach to this, it should not be a piecemeal approach and the Germans have a lot of expertise in this area. We have been talking to them and they are very keen to provide expertise and draw an entire blueprint for water management in Fiji.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that due to decades of neglect, one of the problems we have seen in the recent past in Fiji was that there was a lot of sedimentation, not just on the river mouths but also a lot of sedimentation upstream as a result of which we see small streams or creeks or very small rivers get flooded very quickly.

“When this happens, it causes a lot of hardships because highways get blocked, roads get blocked, people aren’t able to access their homes, aren’t able to go schools and it also damages a lot of farms. So, we need to tackle those issues. Also, for example, in a town like Rakiraki flooding also takes place up the river, through the town area.

“We have seen there have been a lot of illegal developments also which have encroached upon the banks of the river. We need to have a blueprint in respect of how we are going to roll out the management of these waterways.

“We are in discussion with the Germans in this respect and we have had some general agreement from them that they will provide some expertise and have people on the ground. The issue now is of course about timing and we from our side would like to have it done as soon as possible. However, we need to exchange some paperwork and we hope to have some people on the ground at least before the end of the first quarter of next year to draw up a blueprint.

“What we have also said is that we need to have some experts seconded to the Ministry and be embedded within the Ministry for at least two years or so, so we do not have people just parachuting in but have people stay there for a period of time, pass on their expertise but also develop local capacity.

“We have specifically requested for experts in areas of hydrology and different aspects of water management. We have seen some positive response, which we are very pleased about. Now we have to carry through with the paperwork.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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