Editorial comment – How we value our environment

The Cunningham river turns a bright milky green in broad daylight. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

There is a mysterious black substance spilling into the Samabula River in Suva. This has been happening for some time now, residents living by the river have confirmed.

As attention internationally targets environmental protection, and focuses on proactive participation, we are now being dragged into a scenario back home that certainly isn’t pleasant at all.

It is encouraging to note that investigations are being initiated by the Environment and Waterways Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy.

He confirmed that water samples from the river have been sent to the University of the South Pacific for tests.

The university’s School of Marine Studies deputy head of school (Learning and Teaching) Dr Marta Ferreira said although she had not visited the river, more monitoring of rivers and identification of pollution source needed to be done by relevant authorities in such instances.

What is of concern though is that the mysterious substance continues to spill into the waterway.

How this is even allowed to happen is a major concern. The seemingly indiscriminate spill into a waterway that actually runs through a heavily populated area is definitely a worry.

Residents living by the river have questioned if it is contributing to the bad odour they have to endure almost every day.

According to resident Aninja Prasad, the inky coloured water was something new they have just noticed. Understandably concern will shift to the protection of our marine ecosystem and the environment along the path of the river.

The river made the news in December, 2014 after a sewage pipe carrying waste from Suva to the Kinoya treatment plant collapsed after heavy rain.

The spill continued until December 24 when the Water Authority of Fiji sorted out a temporary solution.

A ban was put in place stopping people from swimming or fishing in waters nearby.

This stretched through to the next year in 2015.

Now this!

The Ministry of Environment says it has collected samples from the river for testing.

Every effort must be made to get to the bottom of this issue, identify the source of the mysterious substance, and if it is harmful, appropriate action must be taken to deal with those responsible for its discharge.

We now await the test results which, according to the minister, should probably be available next week.

Perhaps this should be an eye-opener for us all about the need to put a stop to the pollution of our waterways. The Samabula River is an eyesore for starters.

There is a foul smell that is overpowering in some places. Is this the price we have to pay for development?

We must stand up to be counted, and take a leading role in the protection of our environment, for us now, and for our future generations. Let’s value our environment, and transfer that sense of appreciation to our own lives.

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