Parveen Bala Uncorrected

Hon Parveen Bala: Update on damages to roads, bridges, and water supply after TC Keni

I thank the Hon Minister for his statement. May I also welcome him back to the House after his Monday away with the involvement in the distribution of assistance to the flood victims in the West.

Once again Madam Speaker, we were hoping that the Minister would be using Parliament time to ELUCIDATE this august House on the new disaster rehab package called “Cyclone Assistance Relief Effort” — given the public interest around these initiatives.

Most particularly Madam Speaker, when the Hon Prime Minister in launching the Cyclone Assistance Relief package just prior to leaving for CHOGM in London had stated in his press conference that for those who lost homes, those who are entitled to the package:

will be able to use their electronic cards at approved retail vendors to purchase the items they need to rebuild their homes and replace the items they lost.Expressions of Interest for vendors will be in tomorrow’s Fiji Sun and we’ll announce the full list of vendors next week“.

We are still awaiting the Government to follow through its promise in the Fiji Sun six days after the relief measures were announced by the honourable Prime Minister – and might I add for god measure – the package was almost a replica of what the NFP Leader had proposed on 2nd April which was Easter Monday – a day after the devastating floods.

So Government may deny it 24/7 but it is copying the ideas and initiatives of this 54 year old Party.

But comping back to the delay in announcing and swiftly implementing the package instead of reporting o roads, rivers, culverts and bridges – Perhaps Madam Speaker, the Government side is wary of the Opposition asking the hard questions that would hamper their PR efforts after this sitting week? If so, we look forward to the upcoming budget session, and anticipate that to be a very active and robust one!

What needs to be told – and this is an indisputable fact – the neglect by what honourable members from the the side consistently refer to as the Bainimarama Government since January 2007 as well the current Fiji First Government from September 2014 of the waterways has caused severe damage to the roads, bridges and irish crossings.

Worse still this neglect of about 11 years has caused devastation to homes and properties,  in far greater magnitude than it did to roads and bridges. The honourable Minister’s hometown of Ba is a  painful example. I am sure even he would have been astounded at how raging waters from the Namosau river became a mini tsunami, causing damage to Xavier College and residential properties even  in Yalalevu on the morning of Sunday April 1st.

So if the raging floodwaters broke concrete retaining walls, then it surely would have damaged roads, bridges and irish crossings with small culverts.

And as far as our assessment of damaged areas was concerned, damages to roads and bridges was also caused by shoddy construction or reconstruction of old infrastructure. We believe this construction was a cosmetic exercise, leading to deterioration even after heavy rain, let alone flooding.

One only has to drive up Edinburgh drive to and from and city to see how a very recently re-constructed or re-sealed road has become bumpy. And still in Suva another major road – Mead road is being ripped apart and re-done when it was re-sealed last year!

Therefore clogged waterways caused by more than 11 years of neglect after the coup and releasing of roads and weak construction works purely as a cosmetic exercise are responsible for the damage .