Editorial Comment – Focus on the north

An aerial view of Labasa Town. Picture: FILE

Lands and Mineral Resources Minister Filimone Vosarogo made an important point yesterday when he said Labasa needs to return to its glory days where economic activities and industries thrived.

Because he had grown up and attended school in the town, Mr Vosarogo said the decline in economic activity was obvious.

“Back in those days we had FSC, Vinimoli Sawmill and Valebasoga Tropik Board and these were economic drivers in Labasa,” he said.

“All this happened while growing up here and then I left but when I returned many years after for work, I saw it all evaporated.

“The life Labasa used to have as a focal point of economic expansion in the North has gone with it.”

The migration of people from rural to urban areas had not helped either.

A lot of people from Labasa, he said, had moved to Suva, and there was an overflow of the population in the city and infrastructure was not able to sustain and support that.

A solution, he said, would be to raise economic activities in the North.

“This will remain the focus of our Government under the direction of our Prime Minister and have Labasa return to its former glory days, perhaps surpass that.”

In saying that, we are encouraged by the attention focused on the Northern township.

In fact it is the way to go. Encouraging economic growth would be positive for the division.

The roll-on impact would be great for the people of Vanua Levu.

It would have the potential to feed and sustain employment opportunities, and subsequently drive the domestic economy, encouraging industries to thrive. But this isn’t going to be a walk in the park though.

The challenge is going to be on how much we want this to happen, and whether we are prepared to relook at policies, and strategies that will enable this to happen, and empower the people of the Northern Division.

We look up to the powers that be to tap into the vast natural resources in the division, from agriculture, marine, to minerals, and also to the potential for tourism development.

We are reminded about the fact that we have a very good highway connecting Labasa to the bottom edge of Vanua Levu, in Nabouwalu, and an equally good highway linking it to Savusavu.

We are also reminded about vessels that ply the waters between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, providing a service for people and businesses.

We are buoyed by this latest statement and hope it sets in motion further developmental discussions aimed at boosting the economic base for northerners.

Things can only look better for the nation!

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