THE opening of the new Nadarivatu Hydro-electric scheme certainly marks a milestone, as the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama pointed out yesterday, in the wave of progress, modernisation and development taking place in our country.
What will stand out is the fact that this new project will save us $42 million in imported fuel annually.
The State says the scheme is set to benefit landowners in terms of infrastructure development apart from the savings it is bound to rake in.
Perhaps what will raise eyebrows and convince stakeholders of the State's commitment to empowering them is the decision to ensure landowners are provided power generated in their backyard.
It is keen to wipe off any doubts that may have stuck on in the wake of the Monasavu Hydro-electric scheme woes which saw landowners and communities in areas surrounding the dam being left without electricity.
To that end, the PM yesterday promised landowners and surrounding villagers that the problems faced by the Monasavu people would not be repeated.
As he said yesterday, it is about empowering Fijians.
The revelation is buoyed by the fact that such empowerment can only mean good things for stakeholders. Infrastructure development is vital to improve the lives of people in the interior of Viti Levu, or for that matter around the country.
We will not dwell on what is appropriate return, but raise the issue of living standards and how such a project has the potential to lift it for people who have long sought assistance for infrastructure development.
For what it is worth, we hope this development will instill in the people of Nadarivatu and its surrounding areas, an appreciation of the wonders of modernisation, appropriate aid, and will help unleash their potential.
It is going to be good for them, their communities, and eventually for the people of Fiji.
As the PM said, "in our program to connect all Fijians we must do so without discrimination".
He said when the Monasavu project was commissioned in 1983, "many of the communities in the surrounding areas were ironically and tragically left unconnected. The power that was generated by that first dam went right past them".
It was a sad state of affairs he said that will not be repeated.
In keeping with that commitment, surrounding areas have already been connected.
We realise the project has overwhelming potential to improve the lives of many people.
There will undoubtedly be varying perceptions hovering on the implications of a savings on 20,000 tonnes of fuel each year, amounting to further savings of $42 million spent on fuel annually.
Acknowledgement is extended to the movers and shakers who have made this massive project happen.