Sewage leak claims

Vatemo Rokodugu of Namelimeli village shows the alleged sewage spill outside the Navua hospital yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

VILLAGERS of Namelimeli outside Navua Town have resorted to other activities as a means of survival. The villagers claim that sewage waste deposits from the Navua Hospital have polluted a river next to the village.

For Mereani Pole, 48, the river had been a source of income for her family.

Ms Pole said they had resorted to cash crop farming to substitute fishing, and catching mud crabs. “The sewage leak that had been deposited in the river has really affected us. We can’t fish or do anything in the river now,” she claimed.

“For now, we are selling our crops and vegetables in the market and in the hospital.” Another villager, Vatemo Rokodugu, said villagers had been stopped from using the river. “A complete ban has been issued to all the elders and children not to bath or fish in the river because of the sewage leakage from the hospital,” he claimed.

“We are really worried because this used to be a means of survival for many, but now these people have been directed to do other things. “Our children have also been banned from swimming in the river because they might at some point drink this polluted water.”

Mr Rokodugu said they held meetings with the Health Ministry officials who he claimed were not aware of when the leakage took place. “We have met with them twice already and we will meet again next week.”

Villager, Ravuama Vuinakelo, 54, said unlike before, there had been little fish and mud crabs along the area.

“Before we had plenty fish and mud crabs but now there is not much, I think it’s because of the sewage,” he said.

“This time around we have been unfortunate because of this problem.” Maikeli Turagakula, another villager, echoed similar sentiments. “This has caused a huge problem for us. No fish in our river and now we have to travel some distance away from the village to actually fish,” he stated.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services said there was no untreated waste water discharged into the river.

“Navua Hospital’s sewer system is routinely monitored by Divisional Medical Officer Central (DMOC), along with the Chief Health Inspector (CHI) and the Ministry’s Environmental Health team,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“All waste water at the hospital is fully treated and filtered, and no untreated wastewater has been discharged. While a minor leak of clean water occurred, it was quickly remedied by DMOC and his team, and there are no health concerns.”