Editorial comment – Connecting the dots

The Muslim League settlement in Nabua, Suva. Picture: RAMA/FT FILE

It was bound to happen anyway!

The bit about residents of the Nabua Muslim League settlement wanting to know why some businesses continue to sell glue to under-aged children when they are aware of how it will be used.

We had initially highlighted this issue of glue sniffing in Nausori recently, buoyed by the fact that police had taken a role in addressing it in the small township.

Now the president of the Brave Hearts youth group committee Jale Katonivere believes the glue-sniffing issue is a social crisis, with children seen sniffing from cans around Nabua.

He claims children roam around the Nabua town centre, and “girls just sit down on the streets totally oblivious to what’s going on around them, they’ve been so badly affected by the glue”.

“When one child buys the glue, they go and call the other children and they all end up on the wrong path,” he claimed.

“At night, they sleep over here and during the day you can see them walking around.”

His committee, he said, is now focused on trying to address the issue.

Drug-Free World Fiji operations officer and reformed drug addict Osea Waqainavatu said there were a lot of reasons people used illicit drugs.

He said it had the potential to destroy people and break up families.

“We empower people with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live a drug-free life,” he said.

“The result of our work to date is that we have directly delivered to over 100,000 people across Fiji and we have seen firsthand the devastation of these drugs.”

Now in the face of that we have the second tranche of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the Wages Regulations (WR) which was implemented last Friday.

The new rate for the NMW is $3.34 per hour and the Ministry of Employment has reminded all employers and workers of this minimum wage rate increase.

The first tranche came into effect on April 1 following the Revised 2021-2022 National Budget announcement.

In raising this point, we consider how the escalating cost of food and fuel prices, combined with the increase in bus fares is forcing some parents to keep their children at home.

We touched on this in Monday’s edition, speaking to people directly impacted and the challenges they faced.

Susana Lewai, 45, a mother of seven who lives on the outskirts of Nakasi, said life was getting difficult by the day.

She spoke about living on noodles and what she termed ‘cheap food’.

She spoke about her dream to see her husband get a better pay, and her hope for some change in cost of living.

She spoke about bus fares and the challenges faced by low-income earners like her family.

At the end of the day, we may be sceptical and wonder about connections, and how these issues are intrinsically linked when we take an overview of scenarios that exist around us.

Our challenge though is how we come together to address issues of concern and how the powers that be provide the needed impetus to empower us all.

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