Matawalu villagers wary of weather

MATAWALU villagers who fled floodwaters last Sunday have opted to remain with friends and relatives in elevated areas until the weather clears.

The village, home to 45 families and more than 250 individuals, is located on the Kings Rd on the outskirts of Lautoka.

Arieta Tio, a villager, said people were caught in a dilemma.

“On the one hand they are worried about their homes and belongings, but on the other they fear for their lives and safety of loved ones,” the 57-year-old shared.

“The way the floods came last Sunday was very frightening because the water level just rose so quickly.

“Many of the villagers have chosen to remain in the elevated areas until the weather clears completely because they are worried about their children’s safety and also the health risks.

“They have put their clean-up operations on hold until it is safe to go back down to the village.”

National Federation Party members who visited Matawalu yesterday said the location of the village contributed to its vulnerability to flooding.

“Matawalu is flanked by the river on two sides and during periods of very heavy rainfall, water levels tend to rise very rapidly because of this very reason,” said NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad.

“So the only option the villagers can take is to relocate permanently to elevated areas and they have land available to do this.

“It is unfortunate that Government ignored this and built 17 cyclone-proof homes knowing full well that the village was prone to flooding,” he claimed.

“This fire fighting approach is a waste of very valuable resources.”

Questions sent to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the comments made by Prof Prasad yesterday morning remained unanswered.

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