Villagers in the dark on electricity project

Tui Nalawa Ratu Epeli Niudamu (third from left) with other village representive after the meeting at Ra Provincial Council hall. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

NAVUNIIVI villagers in Navitilevu, Ra, are demanding the return of more than $42,000 which they had raised for a rural electrification project in 2009.

Navitilevu district spokesman Ilitomasi Vana said the money was paid to the Department of Energy which was tasked to implement the project after the payment.

While speaking at a talanoa session with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Nanukuloa in Ra earlier this week, he said many villages in the province had fundraised for the project headed by the Department of Energy.

He said although the money was handed over to the government agency, electricity supply was yet to reach their homes.

He explained that a total of $42,500 was raised by Navuniivi for the combined rural electrification project.

Project chairman Josaia Mocenasavu said apart from Navuniivi, Malake village was the only village that managed to raise funds for the project.

“We had given our money along with Malake and not long after that they started the wiring works and we found out that some of the villages which couldn’t give their village contribution got their electricity supply before we did,” he said.

“Then Malake got their electricity and we were still waiting.”

He said the village then suffered considerable damage during Tropical Cyclone Winston which affected the community’s progress.

“Now its 2018 and we have villages that had their homes damaged by Winston but they rebuilt their homes and they got electricity too while Navuniivi is still in the dark.”

He said the village wanted the money back so they could initiate their own energy project.

“We can use the money to buy solar panels and set them up ourselves. All we want now is for that money to be returned to us.”

The Prime Minister said his officials would look into the issue.

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