ANALYSIS: WAF Changes Happen After MP Raised Concern

The Opposition raises issues of na­tional interest; the Government takes note and remedies them. It’s the ideal way that a Parliament should work in a democracy such as ours. The
12 Jun 2018 13:14
ANALYSIS: WAF Changes Happen After MP Raised Concern
Opposition SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro

The Opposition raises issues of na­tional interest; the Government takes note and remedies them. It’s the ideal way that a Parliament should work in a democracy such as ours.

The positive outcome is the changes in the Water Authority of Fiji. It’s also a perfect example of the Government and the Oppo­sition playing their roles to serve the people they represent.

As far back as September 24, 2015, Opposi­tion SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro raised the problems in WAF in his response to the Presidential speech for the opening of the 2016 Parliament session.

He said then that while 80 per cent of our population had access to piped water with some form of treatment, and around 40 per cent had access to sewerage facilities, the age old pressing problem of intermittent water supply still existed despite the level of investment going into this sector.

He said: “According to Government offi­cial reports, this is related to high leakage in the systems and the inability of the ex­isting infrastructure to cope with demand.

“If these problems continue to persist Madam Speaker, maybe Honorable Minis­ter needs to get better people to handle the problems and overhaul the board of WAF just he has done for LTA.”

On July 25, 2017, Mr Radrodro issued a statement from the Opposition Office, de­manding that Government stop playing politics with people, buckle down to fix the priority of providing basic infrastructure in terms of water supply to the thousands affected by water disruptions.

He made the remarks after the burst main at the Waila Treatment Plant.

“This is preposterous of this Government that in this day and age of modern technol­ogy and after WAF has received close to $1 billion in Budget allocation for the last three years, we still have much disruptions affecting homes, businesses and schools,” he said.

“Someone has definitely been sleeping on the job.

“I have to question the technical knowl­edge of the current CEO and the WAF Board on addressing these crucial issues. Why was this allowed to get to this stage?

“Let me just end by strongly recommend­ing that WAF gets a CEO and Board Chair­man with engineering background to sort out that institution otherwise we will in­creasingly see the same pandemic prob­lems which saw the CEO for FRA run away from his job occurring at WAF.

“This is shameful for the Government given the high amount of money it pours into infrastructure development annually as compared to the days of Public Works Department.”

The Government must have taken the is­sues seriously because on December 14, 2017, WAF issued a statement which said: “The process has started to recruit a new Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) chief ex­ecutive officer with a strong engineering background in water and wastewater man­agement to oversee major projects sched­uled to begin early next year, including the $US405 million Greater Suva Area Water and Waste Water Scheme.

“The new CEO will replace Mr Opetaia Ra­vai, whose contract has been discontinued, according to WAF Chairman PL Munasin­ghe.

“While we thank Mr Ravai for his excel­lent work over the past five years it is time to position the Authority to meet the engi­neering and technical challenges ahead.

“WAF is entering a new era that is becom­ing highly technical and we need a person with extensive hands on experience in wa­ter and wastewater project development to lead the Authority, said Mr Munasinghe.

“It is expected that the new CEO will be named soon, Mr Munasinghe said.”

While no one has been named yet the ir­regularities uncovered by the auditors vin­dicated Mr Radrodro’s statement. He has been asking the questions since 2015. It’s finally been sorted out

Mr Radrodro had asked the questions that matter to the people, not engaged in frivo­lous debate that some of his parliamentary colleagues were involved in, to score cheap political points.

When Opposition members make a state­ment with substance, the Government’s more likely to investigate and act.

If other Opposition MPs are like Mr Radrodro, the Opposition will be a lot stronger. Where there is a strong Opposi­tion, the Government is strong. This does not mean just making noises in Parliament or attacking Government for the sake of be­ing heard and seen.

But rather to contribute in a meaningful way like Mr Radrodro did.

While they may be on opposite sides, the Opposition and Government complement each other when they carry out their roles as they should. WAF has become a benefi­ciary of this relationship.

The bottom line is that they are both ac­countable to the public.

Edited by Ramoba Baoa




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