Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has expressed deep sadness and sympathy for the victims of the flash floods that took lives, and shattered infrastructure and the already fragile economy of the nation.
In a statement issued today from New Delhi, Mr Chaudhry said that he had been briefed on the severity of the situation by his party officials and was aware of the substantial damage inflicted on private property and goods.
“The loss of human lives and missing persons is most unfortunate and will further add to the misery and suffering of families who have lost all their material possessions. On behalf of the Fiji Labour Party, I convey my deepest sympathies to the grieving families in this respect,” said Mr Chaudhry.
He added that the natural disaster will have an adverse effect on the lives of almost every citizen.
“Damage to crops will result in an acute shortage in supply of basic fruits, vegetables and root crops and this will mean higher prices – which the average consumer will find very difficult to afford.
“Widespread damage to roads and bridges will mean delays in the start of the school season. Government assistance here is absolutely critical both in terms of restoring access to schools as well as providing subsidies to families for the purchase of school books and uniforms.
“Without government assistance, many parents will not be able to send their children to school considering the loss suffered by individual families,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Infrastructure in the West and North has been devastated. Damage to the sugar industry as well as agriculture is substantial and will require much financial and technical support, from both the Government and other external donor agencies and bi-lateral partner nations, if Fiji is to recover quickly from such a calamity.
Mr Chaudhry said the recent flooding and the devastation it caused underscored the need to pay much greater attention to ensuring that our major rivers were regularly dredged and that bridges and roads were built so as to withstand such natural disasters.
“In the meanwhile, there is an urgent need for greater coordination between the various State agencies to ensure that help to affected victims is expedited. To this end the military must be utilized to work with DISMAC and other government agencies to assist in the delivery of food rations.
The military must also be utilized to provide other forms of assistance such as helping to reinforce river banks to prevent flooding of towns and cities as well as to assist the Police in the protection of personal property of citizens,” the FLP leader said.
Mr Chaudhry commended the work of DISMAC as well as NGOs such as the Red Cross for their assistance with the relief effort.
He is expected to embark upon an extensive tour of all affected areas upon his return from India and intends to meet with the interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to discuss ways on how the FLP could help assist affected persons and communities.