December 20, 2016
The National Federation Party calls upon Government to declare Rakiraki including (Vaileka Town), parts of Qamea and the other flood affected areas of Fiji, Central Division (Rewa, Tailevu-Nausori) and West (Nadroga/Navosa-Sigatoka, Nadi)- Disaster Areas to enable everyone affected by the devastating floods and freak winds to be provided immediate assistance by the State.
A similar move should be done for flood affected areas in other parts of the country that are in danger of being flooded because weather forecast shows the unpredictable nature of the depression affecting Fiji.
By now Government should have learnt from the experience of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston and be in a state of disaster preparedness both in terms of equipping evacuation centres with essentials and food items as priority number one.
Secondly, Government must have a rehabilitation package in place to assist victims and families following an immediate disaster impact assessment. In the immediate aftermath of Winston Government was caught off-guard and thousands of our people had to rely on immediate assistance provided by Australia and New Zealand.
However this time Government does not have any excuses.
Assessment based on pictures in many areas has shown damage and destruction of unprecedented proportions caused by strong currents of raging floodwaters in Ra not experienced in decades by the people in the district.
We extend our deepest sympathies to those families who have lost their livelihood, suffered damages to their homes, businesses and crops.
By now Government would have established the areas in the country worst affected that need immediate help. It will be of great relief to the victims if Government transports food and water in large quantities to the affected and identified areas immediately.
Victims who have lost every thing cannot wait any longer. They need food, water and clothing immediately.
Ra- Massive rehabilitation required
The town and district of Ra has suffered millions of dollars worth of damages. The entre town was submerged with some places inundated by as much as 10 feet of water. The entire business community has suffered damage and losses.
Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed by flood waters. Farmers lost their livestock. Agricultural crops including sugarcane barely recovering from the impact of Winston have been destroyed.
Worse still, those families still living in tents 10 months after Winston had to relieve the trauma of mother nature. They have been unable to rebuild their lives because of unacceptable delays by two major hardware companies to supply them building material almost seven months after they were paid for under the Help For Homes Initiative.
It is clear that tens of millions of dollars will be needed in the short term to bring some degree of relief to the flood victims in the affected areas of Fiji. As a priority, we suggest that Government’s machinery do the following:
1. Deploy army engineers to repair badly damaged infrastructure including schools and essential basic services like water supply. The personnel should also be used to help in the clean-up effort after the flood and distribution of food rations.
2. Authorise FNPF to allow withdrawals by members affected by the disaster to help in rehabilitation of homes and purchase basic household items.
3. Approve a house rehabilitation package with a minimum assistance of $5000 to re-build lost or damaged homes.
4. Approve a crop rehabilitation package to assist the agricultural sector including the sugar industry.
5. The businesses that have lost everything and those in danger of going under cannot survive even with assistance by their banks or delay in loan repayments. A rehabilitation package is also needed for them.
6. Two weeks ago, the Attorney General announced two hardware companies would have to pay a 4% penalty or surcharge for their failure to deliver material they were paid for under the Help for Homes Initiative. We call upon the AG and Minister for Economy to reveal what was paid to each of the two companies for non-delivery of material and the penalty amount to be revealed the funds to be used for rehabilitation.
7. As a gesture of goodwill, Fiji First Government Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament should authorise 10% of their salaries to be deducted and go towards relief efforts, similar to what the Opposition did after Winston. This should be easily acceptable given the massive increase in allowances and per diems that Parliamentarians voted for themselves (except the NFP MPs)
Authorised by: Roko Tupou Draunidalo, NFP President.