Letters | Opinion

Editorial: Urgent Campaign For Vanua Levu’s Development

Business leaders and dwellers of Vanua Levu are on vigorous campaign.  The Look North policy has somewhat become a joke among business stakeholders.
14 Oct 2023 09:56
Editorial: Urgent Campaign For Vanua Levu’s Development
Damodar Group chief executive officer, Div Damodar with Natasha Jaduram, Director of Paul Jaduram Investments Limited, after the memorandum of understanding for the development of a four star Hotel at the Damodar City Labasa complex on May 10, 2018. Photo: Maraia Vula

Business leaders and dwellers of Vanua Levu are on vigorous campaign. 

The Look North policy has somewhat become a joke among business stakeholders.  

One suggested that it should now be called Walk North policy- where it’s not just a lot of talk but poli­cymakers should start walking the talk.  

The multi-million-dollar Damodar City investment brought to Labasa is a game changer that should shake Government out of its snail-paced implemen­tation.  

While investments are pouring in across Vanua Levu, its infrastructure development needs to catch up as well.  

It is clear from their concerns that it is high time the Government implemented its development plans for the North with urgency – urgency being the operative word.  

Vanua Levu has been overlooked for too long. Also, the outer islands that are potential hubs for more economic activities have been overlooked.  

For two years, we witnessed the dilapidated state of the Nalele Bridge on Taveuni, which Fiji Sun often reported.  

Residents and the bus operator there campaigned vigorously for its repairs and the results proved fruitful.  

Last week, the Fiji Roads Authority announced a two-week maintenance plan for the bridge that con­nects more than 1000 people.  

It is the only way residents there can access essen­tial services like healthcare, judicial and education among others.  

This is only part of the reason why infrastructural development and upgrade is needed urgently.  

If we look at the bigger picture, certain areas in Vanua Levu have major potential growth because of tourism.  

Just as Nadi and parts of the West have benefitted from the tourism sector, so too can the North.  

Savusavu, the Hidden Paradise is a growing tour­ism hub there and also in others like Taveuni.  

But again, infrastructure plays a critical role in making this a reality.  

Even Labasa, the sugarcane town, seen as the back­bone of this area, is in dire need of infrastructure upgrade.  

The World Bank signed a US$200 million (F J$452 million) programme with Government over 10 years, which will see Vanua Levu being an investment des­tination in the coming years.  

While it is reassuring to note that this Government has made some promising announcements with big figures to go with it, a sense of urgency needs to be backed by that promise, Northerners say.  

This sense of urgency is again trumped by the shocking contrast of Savusavu’s 1.9 per cent visitor days, against 22 per cent in traditional tourism areas like Denarau.  

But empathising with the concerns of Vanua Levu, Labasa and Savusavu special administrator Doreen Robinson said the people themselves also need to adopt civic pride.  

“One of the main issues I have is littering and vandalism and the poor service that you get,” she said.  

“We need to be cleaner and take care of our town.” All in all, business leaders and government have recognised this untapped potential, and with a focus on infrastructure and revitalisation; there’s a strong push to ensure that Vanua Levu can fully realise its promise as a significant contributor to Fiji’s econom­ic progress. 

Story By: Ranoba Baoa 

Feedback: ranobab@fijisun.com.fj  

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