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Impact on the people

Torika Tokalau
Saturday, June 21, 2014

REZONING Waibola from residential to heavy industrial will have a psychological effect on the people of the area, says psychologist Selina Kuruleca.

Ms Kuruleca said the rezoning issue, which was at the moment provisionally approved by the Department of Town and Country Planning, was already causing psychological stress to residents living in the area.

"The lack of consultation with local people is a particular concern. It is widely perceived by the community as a top-down and forced process," Ms Kuruleca said.

"This forced approach has inevitably led to stress and worry."

She said when she spoke with the locals in the area, some of their reported worries and stresses included how they would fish and feed their families, continued viable food gardens, noise, air, and water pollution as well as survival to the mangroves that had sustained them and their forefathers for so long.

"The Draunibota Bay area is and has been for many generations the fishing ground of at least three generations of villagers, an income earner for the local people and provides natural protection against high tides and storm surges, a necessary protection for the villagers in the low lying areas.

"It is a local habitat for millions of organisms and fish, and thus a sustainable vibrant eco-system.

"The community (Wailekutu), due to recent industrial developments, is also experiencing flooding that they have never seen in their homes before. Some people lost everything.

"When there is water cuts, people rely on the river for their water. This is now polluted by earthmoving and industrial development."

Ms Kuruleca said proposed developments for Waibola should continue at alternative locations, but only after widespread consultation and detailed analysis of long-term impacts.

"These impacts may include serious physical symptoms such as compromised sleeping and auditory problems due to noise pollution, vision and eye problems due to dust — associated with more pollution in the area, increase in respiratory problems from breathing in the polluted air and sleep deprivation due to the noise."

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