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Lau Tour Ends

Government’s 19-day tour of the Lau Group ended last week. The tour was from April 1 – 29 where the vessel, MV Iloilovatu was home to 91 Government and media
05 May 2015 13:48
Lau Tour Ends

Government’s 19-day tour of the Lau Group ended last week.

The tour was from April 1 – 29 where the vessel, MV Iloilovatu was home to 91 Government and media representatives who visited Tuvuca, Cikobia, Vanuabalavu, Cicia, Nayau, Lakeba and Vanuavatu.

Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu said it was an opportunity for him to know his areas of operation in Lau.

“It is a chance for me to meet the people and know their challenges and the development needs that they have for the Government to assist,” Mr Moroivalu said.

“For us as an integrated team of Government ministries and departments, we have to look for a way forward for the development needs of the communities.”

He said some services provided in urban centres were taken to the islanders.

“The registration of births, deaths and marriages, tin letters, formalisation of chiefly titles and entering and of names into the Vola Ni Kawa Bula (Register for Native Landowners), dental and health screening, the buying of produce from villages by Fiji Agro Marketing and first-hand consultations with villagers by ministerial representatives discussing both grassroots and national issues,” Mr Moroivalu said.

He said one of the major achievements was the remote Liku Village of Nayau Island to be visited for the first time by a divisional commissioner.

“Civil servants working on the islands, particularly teachers and medical officers, were visited by their heads of departments and schools were distributed free milk and Weet-Bix and textbooks.

“It was also interesting to see the challenges that people out there on remote islands face daily. For me as divisional commissioner, it is important for me to be sitting at my office in Suva and know exactly what the situation on the ground is,” he said.

 

Challenge 1-Water

Mr Moroivalu said most villages faced water supply problems.

“That is a big challenge for us and I put that as priority because the Constitution states that all citizens of Fiji should have access to clean drinking water. This is one of the areas that I would like to address.

“I will try and commence with possible avenues to address water problems in the division,” he said.

Mr Moroivalu said in five to 10 years, there should be some change in water supply systems in the Eastern Division, especially in Lau.

 

Challenge 2- Roads

“While some islands have good roads, some islands like Lakeba have a poor road network. In some places in Vanuabalavu we have to get off the vehicle and walk to complete the journey to our destination because existing roads are in very bad condition,” Mr Moroivalu said.

He said the Fiji Roads Authority had briefed him on their programme of work in the Group.

“For Vanuabalavu they have allocated $600,000 to improve roads on the island and $1million has been allocated for Lakeba,” Mr Moroivalu said.

“We will go back now and discuss with FRA how they are going to   spend the $600,000 for Vanuabalavu and $1m for Lakeba because people have come up and pinpointed areas that really needed upgrading and maintenance.

 

Challenge 3- Climate Change  

“Another major issue that people are facing is a global one – climate change,” Mr Moroivalu said.

“We need the assistance of an expert in this area to do proper research on how best to build seawalls,”

He said the best advice they could give to the people right now was to try and adjust to the changes brought on by climate change.

“For them to learn more about climate change and look at local avenues that we can use to address climate change and also start building houses on higher grounds.”

 

Challenge 4- Absence of  permanent employment  

“The absence of permanent employment is another challenge.”

He said it has been mentioned that with the abundance of coconut, the way forward for them is to work on agricultural commodities like coconut by producing copra, virgin oil, bio fuel, etc.

“I know that we are facing a lot of problems with bio fuel and we need to improve it.”

He said they would maintain bio fuel because resources available on the islands were being used, resources that could be exploited to provide daily for the people.

 

Looking for funding

Mr Moroivalu said they were aware of the needs of the people of the Lau.

The next step is to look for funding.

“We are going to look within the Government development programme funding and try and fund these projects,” she said.

“After this visit, it gives us another year to visit the islands. This year we are going to work and try and solve projects that we can fund as fast as possible,” Mr Moroivalu said.

He said they would not be able to fund all projects at the same time.

“We need to prioritise the needs and fund the urgent ones first.”

He said they would seek the help of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We have funding in the commissioner’s office and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport in terms of water assistance.

“That will not stop us from looking outside and seek assistance from non-government organisations and development partners,” he said.

Feedback: ana.sovaraki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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