In what was stated to be one of the worst natural calamities in three years, floods have wreaked havoc in many Western parts of Fiji, leaving at least six people dead and hundreds homeless.
Setting aside its political differences with the Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s military regime, the New Zealand government donated $350,000 to aid agencies for relief operations.
A Fiji information ministry notification declared that the following areas were under a ‘State of Natural Disaster.’
Ra (Rakiraki and Nakoro districts), Tavua (Yaladro Flats, Korovou Village, Votua Flats, Namosau, Koronubu and Rarawai).
Lautoka (Sabeto, Barara, Natabua Seaside, Vitogo, Naviyago, Paipai, Lovu and Drasa Flats), Nadi (Nadi Market, Bus Stand, Andrews Road, Hospital Road, Raniga Street, Korociri Settlement, Nawaijikuma Settlement, Navakai Flats, Moala Village and Moala Flats), Nadroga (Semo, Lomawai, Naveisabasaba, Nalele Villages, Cuvu Flats and Nalovo)
Multiethnic affairs ministry permanent secretary Colonel Inia Seruiratu later confirmed the declaration, stating that it would remain in force for 15 days from January 25, 2012, unless revoked earlier.
The Jet Newspaper reported that the recent floods in the western division have had a devastating impact on many children attending schools.
“The timing of flood is most unfortunate with damage to stationery and uniforms just as the new school year began. Many parents had only just finished their school shopping only to see it ruined in the floodwaters.
“A number of community welfare organisations have been providing assistance in the relief efforts. The Fiji Sevashram Sanga, a Suva based socio-cultural, educational and philanthropic non-government organisation has lived up its reputation of assisting people in times of distress. The organisation is actively involved in providing food and water to people at evacuation centres,” the publication said.
Industry and trade minister and attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced a grant of F$30,000 to small businesses to ‘soften the blow.’
Following a tour of the affected areas in Ba and Nadi on January 26, he said the amount would be spent in assessing small businesses in the affected areas.
“The ministry will work with the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and the respective municipal chambers to assess the damage and recommend further course of action,” he said.