A survey by a Fiji Labour Party monitoring team in the Western Division found that government’s relief and rescue operations failed to deliver timely assistance to the people trapped by floodwaters over the week-end.
The survey was conducted by Party officials in all the six districts of the Western Division.
“The response from the authorities to requests for evacuation and provision of food, water and medical supplies at the various evacuation centres has been disappointing,” said Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
People were ordered to seek shelter at the various evacuation centres which had not been equipped to meet their basic needs for food, water and essential medicine. In a number of cases hungry women and children at these centres asked the public to send them food. These requests were broadcast by radio stations.
“It is a great pity that these unfortunate people who have lost most of their personal and household belongings had to suffer such indignity and humiliation at the hands of those who should protect them,” said Mr Chaudhry.
The FLP survey also revealed that rescue operations were hampered by a lack of four wheel drive vehicles, boats and even such rudimentary equipment as ropes and ladders. This is nothing short of dereliction of duty and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
“One must question the state of preparedness of the disaster management committees in the various districts. It seems that they are either ill-resourced or simply not up to the mark for the job,” Mr Chaudhry said.
We call on the government to take immediate steps to rectify the situation before the onslaught of even worse flooding and wind damage expected in the wake of the anticipated cyclone in the next couple of days.