The island of Taveuni will continue to lag behind in development and economic progress until such time as the island is ‘energised’, says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
This was the sum total of views expressed to him by the business and farming community of Taveuni.
Small businesses on the island have complained that buying electricity from some private power producers at a price five times more than that paid by FEA consumers, was a huge setback for them.
“Business expansion through additional capital investment is simply not a viable proposition until such time as power is available at a reasonable cost,” said a businessman and landlord who has kept two projects on hold for the last five years.
Likewise, the local farming community is unable to take advantage of higher incomes they could earn from exporting their produce directly rather than selling it to middlemen who process and export it from Viti Levu.
The high cost of having to generate power privately adds considerably to the cost of refrigerated food items such as meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products,” a supermarket operator said.
Buying fuel to individually generate power for households and businesses, costs considerably more than what it would cost if FEA were to operate a power facility in Taveuni. Long term, it is not an insignificant drain on our foreign exchange.
“We have been waiting for power since 1966 when FEA was born but it seems we will have to wait until 2066 to be connected,” was the sarcastic comment of a retired civil servant.
The island has great potential- but it needs to be ‘energised’ and the roads in its southern part upgraded or at least widened and maintained to realise that potential.