Letter to the Editor 6th August 2017

The Monasavu Dam Dewan Chand, Suva The Monasavu Hydro Scheme was commissioned by the late Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau on October 20, 1983 and since then has become a matter
06 Aug 2017 13:50
Letter to the Editor 6th August 2017

The Monasavu Dam

Dewan Chand, Suva

The Monasavu Hydro Scheme was commissioned by the late Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau on October 20, 1983 and since then has become a matter of great pride for Fiji.

It came about after intense consultations, feasibility studies, surveys of the terrain, getting expert advice, negotiations with the land owners on compensation, moving settlements from the dam area and finding funding agencies to complete a project of such magnitude.

For Fiji it was a great feat of engineering at a very heavy cost including the loss of human life.

I have always been fascinated by electricity because my childhood was spent in darkness in an era of small kerosene lamps (dhibrees) or hurricane lamps (hathbatti).

Those who could afford it had table-lamps, Tilley lamps or Coleman lamps but electricity was a far cry. So back then whenever I pass near the Labasa Sugar Mill on the banks of Qawa River I used to get mesmerised with the electric bulbs around the mill.

I had heard about the grandeur of the Monasavu Project from my friends who had visited there. However, I had missed the opportunity to visit the Monasavu Dam.

Therefore, I asked my nephews Nilesh and Vinnu to organise a trip for me to the dam.

The date was fixed and on a cool Sunday morning at 6am we left Namadi Heights for the exciting journey. We drove past Adi Cakobau School and into the wild heart of Viti Levu.

As the journey gained momentum everyone, including my little grandson, Ratu Navi (nick name) started talking about the beauty of the lush green forest, and the distant mountain ranges covered in cloud were beautiful indeed.

Our four-wheel drive van snaked its way up the mountain sides and then suddenly we were rushing down on a winding road.

Soon we all began to feel the tiredness. We asked for a short stop to relax.

As we drove along we met men, women and children who happily waved with a loud bula or sometimes with a kaila!

Our hearts filled with joy, there was so much love and affection in these wildernesses. We noticed smoke rising from kitchens, women cooking, and children playing in the village rara, chickens, dogs, cows and horses were also seen. There were cultivated areas as well– dalo patches.

We simply admired the beauty of the flora and fauna and the spirit of paradise. The murmur of the creeks as we crossed the iris crossings was a thrill indeed.

We also saw piles of concrete blocks and timber and roofing iron. And I assumed this was provided by the Government for the repairing of houses damaged during cyclone Winston.

Finally we reached the spot from where the high voltage power lines on mighty pylons are distributed to carry power into the Central and Western divisions.

Amazing indeed what this transfer of power into urban centres has done to boost industrial growth. After driving for some time we reached the Wailoa Power Generating station.

The security there explained how water from the Monasavu Dam comes rushing down to turn the four turbines which generate power and then the water gushes out into the natural stream. Waoh! What the power of water can do!

From here we drove to a higher altitude and the rough winding road to the Monasavu Dam.

It took us almost 45 minutes to reach there, and, boy, it was cold and a cover of cloud enveloped the area. We stopped at the security check point until clearance was given for us to go to the bridge. The bridge was totally covered in cloud and the temperature was 15 degrees Celsius.

My word, it was cold and we had to put on our jackets for protection. We stayed there for an hour and the clouds finally cleared and we were able to look at the bridge and the lake below.

It is huge by any standard. We stopped to say a short prayer for those who died during construction and for us, so that we may lead a comfortable life.

My daughter Prameeta and daughter-in-law Ritu thought that the Monasavu Dam area had great potential for eco-tourism if the infrastructure could be improved. Well this is food for some thought.

From here we drove back to see the Nadarivatu Dam and finally we came out near Tavua Town. What a fascinating journey! We drove back to Suva and by 4.30pm we were very tired but happy to be home.

One has to visit and see for oneself why Fiji is called the Paradise of the Pacific and how the Monasavu Hydro Scheme has ushered Fiji into the 21stCentury by providing clean power to run our factories, homes and offices. Thus saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

I salute those great minds who conceived and executed the completion of this great project.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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