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No road, no vote

Sikeli Qounadovu
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

THE people of Noemalu district do not want to participate in the general election, says Meliobe Namasara, the village headman of Nasava.

Nasava is located deep in the highlands of Naitasiri where the nearest road is a four-hour trek from Sawanikula Village crossing the Wainimala River 32 times.

There are two more villages, Nasauvere which is closer to Nasava and Tubarua which is located further up. These villages are situated along the borders of the Naitasiri, Navosa and Namosi provinces.

Mr Namasara said while they were happy with government assistance so far, they still did not want to cast their votes because the road which was promised to them about 50 years ago was yet to be built.

"We are tired of carrying our supplies from Sawanikula Village. Many times we have carried the sick on a platform during the heavy rain and in the dark across the Wainimala River. We get injured along the way and it is just a sorry sight to see men gasping for air from the floodwaters while at the same time trying to carry the sick," he said.

He said they had cases where the sick did not make it because the nearest health centre was a four-hour trek.

"I asked the station officer, the provincial administrator and the roko if in this year's election the people of Noemalu are excluded from voting because it is no use voting when our plea for a road is not heard."

Fijian Elections Office official Edwin Nand said voting was not compulsory.

Fiji Roads Authority CEO Jonathan Moore said the construction of the road in the district of Noemalu was in progress.

He said the first stage was the construction of the road from Sawanikula to Korovou.

Mr Moore said the ultimate goal was to have the road reach Tubarua Village. However, he did not confirm the completion date.

"This is the first stage. Progress of pilot cut works include clearing of vegetation and grubbing throughout, remove existing local trees, cut to waste and cut to fill, rock excavation, clear vegetation from existing drainage and clear existing water channel, construction of new water channels, high shoulder removal, shaping of road surface to design profile, construct, grade and shape new sub grade, supply and construction/ installation of culverts where necessary to crossover creeks to other side of the extended purpose road length," he said.

Aminiasi Rakula, 69, said: "I have been voting since the 1972 election and every time I ask politicians and government officials of the road they promised us. All they told us it is being taken up, it is being taken up. Taken up where, to heaven?"

Another villager, 55-year-old Sereima Lega, said: "I have been voting since the 1987 election and every time our plea is for the road to be constructed, all they tell us the road will reach us. How long will we have to wait? It is really difficult, especially for us women."

Mr Namasara reaffirmed his stance when this newspaper contacted him last night.

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