Editorial comment – Smoky city and a drug war

A group of people including children enter the Vunato Dump site around midday yesterday as a blaze continues to emit heavy smoke over Lautoka City. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO/FILE

AT least two issues will attract attention today. They range from the rubbish dump fire that is still smoking in Lautoka, to the latest discovery of apparatus to make methamphetamine.

The statement by the Minister for Waterways and Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy last Saturday that the dump fire was under control is now being questioned.

He said after studying the situation at the dump site, staff members from his ministry and Ministry of Local Government had organised pumps and started to douse the fire at Vunato.

“As of midday today (Friday), there is no live fire and smoke has been reduced by 60 per cent,” Dr Reddy said at the time.

By yesterday, smoke was still coming from the dump site, about nine days later.

Questions will be asked about whether we have the expertise and machinery to fight such fires. And if we lack this, what are the processes and contingency plans we have in place and the next course of action?

Do we have equipment to test the air to ascertain whether it is harmful to residents?

Aside from the likelihood of possible harmful effects on residents, there is also the economic implication on businesses in the Sugar City to consider.

Surely this can be classified as an environmental disaster?

We hope the powers that be will front up to the public and reassure them of measures it proposes to put in place to protect against such fires in the future.

It is shocking that residents have been forced to live with the smoke for an extended period of time.

Meanwhile, the discovery by the police of apparatus to make methamphetamine (ice) within the Nakasi- Nausori corridor is not going to shock some people.

Much like the transition in emotional responses from the early discovery of cocaine packs on outlying islands, there may even be a frightening acceptance that this may be worse than we expected.

Divisional police commander eastern Superintendent of Police Kasiano Vusonilawe said they found raw materials that were being used to produce ice.

“At this moment, the only thing we have found is the apparatus and some of the raw materials that have to be mixed together with other materials to make methamphetamine. They were found in the Nakasi and Nausori corridor,” SP Vusonilawe said.

We accept that the police are focused on fighting this hard drug and get it off our streets.

The question though is how deep have the tentacles of the hard drug trade sunken into the streets of our nation.

The police need our assistance to effectively fight this.

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