Waterways to be desilted

Minister for Waterways Dr Mahendra Reddy says dredging the waterways will ensure quick discharge of water coming from upstream, thus minimising any spillover of water to neighbouring communities in Labasa Town. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

IN efforts to contain riverbank erosion and flooding along Labasa Town, work on desilting the three large waterways — Qawa River, Labasa River and Wailevu River — was officially commissioned yesterday. While commissioning the dredging project, Minister for Waterways Dr Mahendra Reddy said dredging the waterways would also ensure quick discharge of water coming from upstream, thus minimising any spillover of water to neighbouring communities in Labasa Town. Dr Reddy said the area of the Labasa River and Qawa River catchments was about 600 kilometres squared, adding that Suweni and Matalolo were the two major tributaries to the Labasa River, while the Bulileka River and Namoli River were tributaries of the Qawa River. “Annual rainfall recorded at the Labasa Airport is at an average of 73.88 millimetres maximum daily, however, 266.5ml was the highest recorded compared with Sigatoka, 35.80mm for Nadi, 41.60mm for Ba, respectively for the same year. “Volume of soil loss is about 30 tonne per hectare per year, which is deposited in the river. “Maintenance dredging works on 1.6km downstream of river mouth at Qawa River was still undertaken by the state dredger DQQ which is expected to remove 168,000 cubic metres of silt and sand.” Meanwhile, the ministry’s technical officer in charge, Jone Varawa, said works would continue after the next five years depending on the silting rate at the river mouth.