SHIPPING

Mataitini Pleads For Better Marina, Wharves In The Lau Group

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources received a submission from Fulaga Island representative Leba Mataitini yesterday on the issue.
22 May 2019 08:51
Mataitini Pleads For Better Marina, Wharves In The Lau Group
roads. Leba Mataitini making her submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources on May 21, 2019.

There is a critical need for better infrastructure in forms of marina and wharves for the people of Lau.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources received a submission from Fulaga Island representative Leba Mataitini yesterday on the issue.

Mrs Mataitini in her submission requested Government to provide reliable, safe and affordable shipping and infrastructure services for the people of the Lau Group.

Present at the meeting were committee chairman Sanjay Kirpal, deputy chair and Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Maritime Development Jale Sigarara, and committee members Mitieli Bulanauca and Peceli Vosanibola.

“With no marinas or wharves for vessels to berth in most islands, the vessels have to berth in the open sea and passengers are off-loaded onto the velovelo (small dinghies) to transport them ashore,” Mrs Mataitini said.

“The elderly, sick, disabled; mothers and babies together with their young children have to be carried like cargoes in boat winches and off-loaded onto the velovelo,” she said

“This is dangerous and inhumane; many people of the Lauan community may be prepared to suffer the crowded conditions of travelling into their islands but the thought of being unloaded like cargoes or trying to get on a moving velovelo rocking beside the ship inhibits them from making the journey.

“I am pleading on behalf of the people of Fulaga including Ogea and all the islands in the Lau group that presently do not have them for the Government of Fiji to build marinas and wharves for safe, humane disembarking of passengers and cargoes.

“This could even be a joint venture with the islanders themselves.”

She also stated that with better infrastructure the people of Fulaga and the Lau group could counter the problem of urban drift.

“If we better the infrastructure, shipping services will flow and we, who have long left our islands will have the urge to go back and start income generating projects that could benefit our families and the island as a whole.

“This will open up development of my islands for future generations; the Lau group of islands will once again be populated by its people who yearn and long to go home but the thought of travelling in discomfort, disembarking as cargo are enough to leave those sentiments merely as dreams.

“Roads are recommended to be constructed in Fulaga alongside the marina project to connect the three villages of Naividamu, Muanaira and Muanaicake.”

Mrs Mataitini reiterated the need for Government to be totally responsible for the provision of ships for inter-island shipping services in the Lau group that will comply with Government national standards for maritime services not only for vessels but for wharves and roads.

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