Chief: Coconut juice also dried up

Ratu Tevita Toloi draws water from a well in Ligaulevu village. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

THE people of Mali Island in Macuata have been deprived of proper water supply despite the socioeconomic rights enshrined in the 2013 Constitution that all Fijians have the right to clean drinking water, says Tui Mali Ratu Meli Bogiso.

On his own island of Vorovoro, about 500 metres from Mali, the population has dropped to just two families because of no water supply, he says.

Ratu Meli said Vorovoro used to have 18 families, but only two families have remained today as others have moved to Labasa.

He said the water problem had been an age-old problem for villagers, but recently the situation had deteriorated because their two wells had been inundated with seawater.

“The current prolonged dry season is one of the worst over the past 10 years and the scorching sun has even dried up the juice of our coconuts,” he said.

“It is really bad and here in Vorovoro we continue to hope every year that we could be provided with a desalination plant or anything that could provide us with much needed water.

“I sometimes think about initiatives to address the rural-urban drift but with these necessities absent in rural areas, people will opt for the better option and that is to move to town.

“While reading through the Constitution during the Constitution Day celebrations, I realised that we were deprived of our right to clean drinking water and that is something serious.”

Ratu Meli said when they ran out of water, they would normally hire boats to Labasa Town to get clean drinking water for cooking and drinking.

“We had rain last week, that did not even fill our tanks to the half mark level and we continue to wait for the government barge that we heard would dispatch water on this side of the North.

However, we are still waiting, hoping and praying that our cries would be heard one day,” he said.

Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea confirmed that islands in the maritime zone, including Mali were being carted water by the government vessel MV Sigavou.

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