Letters to the Editor – August 15

No smartphones at school
Starting next month, French children will no longer be able to use their smartphones or tablets at school.
The new legislation, which was passed by lawmakers prohibits the use of smartphones and other internet-connected devices for schoolchildren aged between 3 and 15.
French high schools with children aged 15 and older can choose whether or not to adopt the ban for their own students.
The ban includes phone or tablet usage between classes or during meal times. French media notes that, before the new legislation, smartphones were banned during class hours since 2010.
Schools in France can make exceptions for disabled students, during extracurricular activities, or if tech devices are needed for learning, however.
Detractors of the ban say that it will change little in the country, while others cite the logistical issues with actually enforcing it. Though at least one parent suggested the use of signal jammers in schools.
Proponents of the ban, which include French President Emmanuel Macron, say that it’s an important step to curb smartphone usage, which has become a matter of public health concern in the country.
Many public health officials and other experts say that excessive smartphone usage may be fuelling cyber-addiction, cyber-bullying and sleep disruption, among other health concerns.
“We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use,” said French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.
Nearly 90 per cent of French children between 12 and 17 owned or otherwise had access to a smartphone in 2016. That’s up from 72 per cent a decade ago. Several studies that have been conducted on smartphones show the benefits of banning devices in schools. One study demonstrated that smartphone bans caused a clear improvement in test scores.
“Our main role is to protect children and adolescents. It is a fundamental role of education, and this law allows it,”Blanquer added.
Maybe our Minister for Education can consider emulating France in this very significant decision.
Arvind Mani, Nadi.

Taxi permits
What action will LTA take against their own employees who approved and proceeded with the taxi permit applications without even checking the applicants’ backgrounds and proper documentations, leaving the fake applicants aside?
Was the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Fiji Roads Authority, towns and city councils ever approached and involved by LTA to discuss taxi permit issues before giving out permits? Or did LTA take matters in their own hands?
Was the barrel draw even gazetted and approved by relevant authorities?
Answers please!
Shamal Chand, Kuku Bau Rd, Nausori.

Calling ministers

After reading honourable Semi T. Koroilavesau’s letter in the FT 11/8 regarding calling his mobile phone to find out what happens to the confiscated fish, cannot go unchallenged. I believe when one calls government officials, 95 per cent of them hardly answer. Almost all don’t even reply to emails. I believe the same can be said about most government bodies.
Once a letter is written in The Fiji Times, most things get done and even the letter writer receives a phone call and 99 per cent of the time the problems are solved.
It’s about time government officials and ministers realise that we are not against them when we complain, but the people need things done and when nobody listens, the Letters to the Editor column does the work.
Narayan Reddy, Lautoka.

Traffic lights

It is now prudent for Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) to install traffic lights in accident prone areas. Given the magnitude of its operational budget, I don’t see any reason this issue cannot be addressed promptly and swiftly by the FRA. I know for sure, FRA has the data of accidents that have occurred on Fiji’s roads and they would be able to pick up high risk areas and do something about it.
In the Suva/Nasinu/Nakasi/Nausori corridor, there are some places such as the junction of Ratu Dovi and the road that goes into Laucala Beach industrial area.
The volume of traffic at this junction is huge and accidents happen here almost every second day. The same goes for the Nadera junction of Ratu Dovi and the road that comes down from Valelevu. The Mead Rd junction with Princes Rd is another high risk area, likewise the junction of Waimanu Rd and Brown St near CWM Hospital.
The residents of other municipalities can come up with their list of accident prone areas.
Maybe it is time for FRA to also consider building pass-over crossing bridges to ease the jaywalking problem. I believe it is needed beside the Suva market near RB Patel Supermarket and the Suva bus terminal crossing to Yatu Lau building.
It can be considered at Nabua town centre at two points, from Shop N Save Supermarket bus stop and one at the old State Theatre.
Our roads are heavily congested with vehicles and people and the FRA need to be at the top of their game to minimise harm and danger associated with road users. Maybe they can start by organising public consultation / roadshows in all municipalities and hear views from road users.
Ilaitia Bose, Suva.

Fighter mosquitoes are here
IN our society so far when deaths occurred because of dengue or many recorded cases of dengue fever were brought to attention, it created fear and panic in the minds of people.
But life will be less frightening now because a fighter mosquito that won’t use guns, missiles and bombs has arrived in our country to battle killer mosquitoes.
The new breed of mosquitoes that carry wolbachia naturally-occurring bacteria are being released in high risk areas where wild mosquitoes pose danger and this is starting from the Central Division.
This particular type of mosquito will breed with wild mosquitoes passing wolbachia to their offspring.
Through this natural and safe method it will reduce the spread of dengue, chikungunya, Zika and control serious health hazards that have been prevalent in our environment.
I believe so far this controlled release of mosquitoes has been working in 12 countries worldwide and is proving successful.
Despite spraying undertaken by municipal councils to destroy breeding places of mosquitoes around the country and regular campaigns regarding cleaning drains, cutting overgrown grass, removal of those items that store stagnant water, green/white goods collection, this program has not completely eradicated the mosquito population.
I believe in Fiji a few people have lost their lives through dengue and during the cyclone season (November – April) that is also the rainy season, a number of dengue fever cases are recorded each year.
While all effort is made to get rid of the mosquito population, the same health problem arises again every year because of lack of attention by people to destroy mosquito breeding places and this enables them to lay eggs, complete full cycle process until they become adults.
This new method will save money, vehicle usage, manpower, other resources, less medical attention and respective authorities can then pay more attention in other areas for the benefit of people.
I believe scientists had been studying wolbachia for use to control mosquitoes that transmit human viruses and their experiment is showing positive results.
We all should commend the work of the World Mosquito Program’s research that is finally being tested and it is considered as safe for humans, animals and the environment.
Wolbachia will be doing its part in reducing and finally destroying the deadly mosquito population, that does not mean that the public should become less bothered and stop paying attention in keeping the environment clean and destroying mosquito breeding places.
It is also a good initiative by municipal councils that kitchen waste is now being picked quite early and six days a week. Previously, I have noticed that at times stray dogs pick up plastics, tear them and empty plastic bottles/tins end in drains.
These items can easily accumulate in drains, get filled with water during rain and become a good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
People living in cities and townships should support municipal councils and health authorities in every possible way so that communicable diseases are brought under control and this will benefit everyone.
Like me all other citizens of this tropical island nation hope the fighter mosquito wolbachia will completely rid our nation of mosquitoes and people will be able to sleep without mosquito nets at night, avoid being bitten by the deadly insect anywhere and feel safe over 24 hours.
Bula, namaste, good day wolbachia for arriving in our multiracial country and your utmost effort to destroy our enemy mosquitoes so that Fiji citizens do not end being hospitalised, treated with medicines and lose their lives prematurely.
CHANDRA PRAKASH SINGH, Sivi Rd, Caubati, Nasinu.

On merit
THE more the A-G confirms that the Bainimarama Government appoints people on merit, the less I believe him, particularly when he says there is no shred of evidence to suggest otherwise.
DAN URAI, Lautoka.

That perception

I AGREE with Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s statement that “Muslims don’t run the country” (FT 14/8). I wonder why there is that lingering public perception in the post 2006 coup Fiji?
RAJEND NAIDU, Sydney, Australia.

Schoolboy rugby

I AM pretty sure the success of RKS in rugby is because of students who join this school have already made up their minds to play rugby for this school.

Fish issue

I WISH to thank Allen Lockington and Wise Muavono, both of Lautoka for their interest in this fish issue. Most of us were only guessing where these fish have gone to.
Is it still lying somewhere in a deep fridge or already digested in someone’s stomach.
I believe it’s only fair if Allen and Wise are given the right answers. After all Government is always emphasising “transparency” so this is an opportunity to show this.
VIJAY MAHARAJ, Sydney, Australia.

Road humps

IT was reported by one of the media outlets that the FRA is planning to install road humps in certain areas.
Apart from the construction of road humps, I request the FRA to look into installing road dividers that prevent overtaking in such areas?
It is quite common for so many restless drivers to use humped areas as overtaking spots! I believe appropriate dividers will not only result in safe driving, it will also help prevent future accidents and injuries to pedestrians.
BIMAL PRASAD, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi.

Grog trend

I AM in Suva and heard that there are places where grog is being drunk and the neighbours come and ask for the kosa!
Dou! Then I was told that because of the high price of yaqona, some people are boiling the kosa! I heard that the brew is more potent. So there you go.
ALLEN LOCKINGTON, Vesivesi Rd, Kinoya, Nasinu.

Fish query
I BELIEVE commonsense dictates confiscated banned fish ends in someone’s pot. Can Allen and Wise stop bothering the minister! He was not there!
DAN URAI, Lautoka.

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