Mixed reactions to fire from communities

Veidogo Settlement, located right next to the Vunato Dump is engulfed with smoke. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

THERE have been mixed reactions from people living in two settlements located next to the Vunato Dump in Lautoka which has been burning since early Monday morning.

Residents of Veidogo settlement claim that while they are the closest community to the dump, they have not been affected by smoke from the blaze.

Speaking to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity, residents claimed that they were “blessed” in some way.

“We have children who are asthmatic and yet we have not had one out of our 300 or so residents get sick even though smoke directly affects us,” a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the elderly members of the settlement had experienced some coughing, but the young ones had not had asthma attacks since the fire started at about 2am on Monday.

About 400m down the road at Vunato settlement, there were contradictory reports.

While turaganikoro Aminio Bale said they had been spared from smoke inhalation, women said the elderly and young children had been affected by the smoke.

The residents chose not to go on record as they feared being victimised because they lived in informal settlements.

Meanwhile, questions sent to the Health Ministry yesterday on how many people had reported respiratory-related illnesses remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.