‘Govt has no excuse’

A damaged fence of a house at Yalalevu in Ba yesterday. Picture:BALJEET SINGH

A damaged fence of a house at Yalalevu in Ba yesterday. Picture:BALJEET SINGH

GOVERNMENT has no excuse for evacuation centres not being ready during times of natural disasters, says Social Democratic Liberal Party leader and former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

In a statement released yesterday, the SODELPA leader conveyed his condolences to the families of the five people who lost their lives on Sunday and he also expressed disappointment with the lack of response by Government in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Josie.

“It is disappointing to say the least, after reading the article on page 3 of the The Fiji Times Tuesday, April 3, 2018, which stated ‘evacuation centres not ready, response slow’,” he said.

“There should be no excuse, the machinery of Government must always be ready before any disaster strikes.

“We currently don’t have the institutions or the capacity to respond effectively to natural disasters since PM Bainimarama has removed institutions set up to respond effectively to natural disaster, such as the Department of Hurricane Relief, Rural Housing and Rehabilitation, the Public Works Department and the Government Supplies Department.

“Given our vulnerable position, and the high risk of exposure to natural disasters, which continue to increase in frequency and intensity, these institutions were set up by Fiji’s visionary national leaders to ensure Fiji has the capacity to respond effectively and to ensure resources are made available in a timely manner during the emergency and rehabilitation phase.”

Mr Rabuka said it was the responsibility of government to take the lead role, to facilitate effective and timely emergency and rehabilitation efforts for the nation, during and after national disasters.

“The private sector and civil society can work in partnership with government in its emergency and rehabilitation effort, but it is the Government that has the responsibility to take the lead role.”