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No solution to water problem

Written By : General Editor. Water disruptions are nothing new in Fiji. For many years people have complained of water cuts which in some cases have lasted for months. There
02 Jan 2009 12:00

Written By : General Editor. Water disruptions are nothing new in Fiji. For many years people have complained of water cuts which in some cases have lasted for months.
There is no quick fix for this. Governments since independence have looked the other way while the already ageing water supply infrastructure deteriorated to the extent of near failure.
By the time the Qarase government, followed by the interim government, attempted to address the problem, it was already too late. The water system now needs the kind of capital expenditure that can probably only come from committed aid donors.
That won’t happen in the foreseeable future for reasons all of Fiji is aware of.
In the meantime those without water supply seek alternative sources.
One enterprising man in Labasa who is fortunate enough to have access to water is selling it to his neighbours at what appear to be affordable prices.
Water is, after all, a necessity and if the state cannot provide it (while nevertheless charging for it) it seems only appropriate that people will find any water they can – and wherever there is a willing seller and a willing buyer a transaction will take place.
For many people in the country it is the only solution.
However, says the Public Works Department, it is also illegal.
There are good reasons for this. The PWD water supply division delivers water that is safe. It is treated under strict conditions to ensure that it is fit to drink and free from harmful and possibly even deadly contaminants.
If we accept the notion that the law exists to protect the people, it seems only common sense to restrict the sale of water that may or may not be completely safe to drink.
But try telling that to those who would otherwise be without water.
When it comes to a choice between following the law and having dry taps or bending it to have sufficient water to bathe, wash and cook, people will obviously choose the second option. And who can blame them?
This particular rule was no doubt written at a time when the water supply was plentiful and reliable. That is no longer the case and the genuine efforts being made to restore that state of affairs still have a long way to go.
Surely the sensible solution is to allow people access to water of some kind – even if they have to boil it before drinking.
Education rather than condemnation might be in everyone’s interest.




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