FIJI cannot drop its guard when preparing for extreme weather patterns caused by climate change, says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
And he says this is why the newly-built Suva Meteorology office in Vatuwaqa will increase the country's capacity to deal with natural disasters.
In opening the new facility yesterday, Commodore Bainimarama said climate change was a reality in the Pacific region and the tropical cyclones and floods had cost more than 100 lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the country.
"The equipment housed in this new facility is a far cry from that possessed by Fiji's first national weather office that was built on this site in 1942," he said.
"The new two-storey building was constructed at a total cost of $3.6million and it houses a modern IT infrastructure, conference room and communication facilities."
The Suva office is expected to work in close co-ordination with the Nadi Weather Forecasting Centre to detect extreme weather and flooding.
"If the Nadi office goes offline for whatever reason, the Suva office will take the point position to ensure essential services are continued.
"But it's not just about early detection. The new technology in this facility will also allow us to conduct important climate-related research. The demand for data about the weather is very high for a number of development-related purposes."
Commodore Bainimarama said the new weather office would also provide services to six other Pacific Island countries — Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru.
"While we cannot control the course of Mother Nature, with investment in the appropriate infrastructure and the latest technology, we can do our best to make sure we're prepared for when she comes our way to save lives and property."