(FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry (2nd left) pictured in Naitata,Navua with cyclone victim Ram Samuj (left) and Hira Lal and Bimal Prasad to his right)
FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has been out meeting with people in Navua, Nausori and Tailevu/Naitasiri areas in the wake of widespread devastation caused by Cyclone Mick.
On Tuesday, the day after the cyclone hit the Central Division last week he made an extensive tour of the Sawani/Nausori areas that were still accessible because large areas were under floodwaters and roads were closed. He met people in Sawani, Waila, Naselai, Vuci, Naduru and Vunimono.
Last week-end he was in Navua and visited the township and then moved out to Naitata, Naitonitoni, Calia, Raiwaqa, Vakabalea, Nakaulevu and Pacific Harbour.
Today Mr Chaudhry is out meeting with people affected in areas of Tailevu and Naitasiri.
Mr Chaudhry said while there was some wind damage, most of the damage was caused through extensive flooding. Crops had been ruined, houses damaged and household items either destroyed or partially damaged. .
Most rural areas were still without electricity and piped water supply. And most affected households had not received any food rations from the government, either.
“I was shocked at the devastation wreaked by the cyclone, particularly the damage done by flood waters. Many families have lost all their belongings while a greater number suffered damage to their household items,” Mr Chaudhry said.
He expressed surprise that despite the large scale devastation, the interim government had not announced any assistance or rehabilitation measures to help the victims of the cyclone.
“Those who have suffered are angry and frustrated that very little has been done to comfort them or give them information on any plans to provide assistance,” he said.
“Destruction to crops has been widespread. This means total loss of income for the farming families for several weeks until the crops recover.
“They have been advised to replant but no assistance has come from the Ministry of Agriculture in the way of seeds/seedlings or help with land preparation prior to replanting,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“With a mere $3 million provided in Budget 2010 for unforeseen expenditure, I cannot see government assistance coming anytime soon,” he added.
“These are people who were already suffering great hardship as a result of the economic downturn. The extensive cyclone damage is a severe blow which they cannot sustain from the position of grave economic hardship they were already facing.
“The regime has even denied them access to their FNPF savings to obtain the bare essentials they now need to take care of their families and children. With schools due to reopen next month many parents are in a quandary as to how to meet their obligations to their school-going children,” Mr Chaudhry said.
The interim government has to provide more concrete support in the form of a cash grant and help with farm inputs such as fertilisers, seeds/seedlings etc to rehabilitate these families, Mr Chaudhry said.