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Villagers cry foul

Vishaal Kumar
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Villagers of Tubalevu at Levukana outside Tailevu claim they have been unable to live off their main source of seafood for the past eight months because of alleged damage to the marine ecosystem.

The villagers have called on the relevant ministries to assess the damage done to their marine ecosystem because of rebuilding works carried out in their area by a contractor of the Fiji Roads Authority.

Village spokesperson Sakiusa Lawaniqoli claimed the work done by the contractor, who had been working on the construction of a new bridge in the area since last June, had contributed to the death of marine organisms within the traditional fishing ground the villagers were dependent on for their daily livelihood.

"The contractors are rebuilding a new bridge on the road which leads to Nakalawaca and Viwa island.

"After three months, because of the pollution and the muddy water from the works, the mangrove leaves started to change colour and died slowly. Also, nearly all the marine species washed up dead too," Mr Lawaniqoli claimed.

"We have been using the sea since our forefathers. This has been passed down from generation to generation."

He claimed during low-tide, a foul stench was usually emitted from the mangrove site and their traditional fishing grounds.

"I went to the relevant authorities seeking answers for this but the only responses I got from them was that it was a temporary issue," he claimed.

Responding to these claims, FRA said the environmental impact assessment of the site was done by their environment team and the Department of Environment.

"FRA and Department of Environment are aware that the contractor has removed some trees during the construction of the temporary access, for which the contractor is required to plant 100 seeds for each mangrove plant being removed," FRA said.

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