The People’s Coalition Government has launched the Termite Control Assistance Programme (TCAP) in a proactive effort to address the escalating challenges posed by the invasive Asian Subterranean Termite (AST).
Aimed at mitigating the detrimental effects and preventing the further spread of these destructive termites, TCAP has been allocated a budget of $3M in the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Hon Sakiusa Tubuna explained the urgency; “Houses heavily infested with termites have not only caused structural weakening of wooden foundations but have also instilled anxiety and fear among the residents of Lautoka. The TCAP is a crucial step towards addressing these concerns and safeguarding our communities.”
The Asian Subterranean Termites have established themselves as invasive alien species in Lautoka and beyond, posing a significant threat to wooden structures.
Recognised globally as a structural and building pest, AST necessitates immediate attention to prevent its spread to other parts of the country through infested items such as timber products and soil.
Hon Tubuna said there is a need for a strategic approach.
“To effectively manage termite infestation colonies, a dedicated termite control taskforce has been operational for several months. It is imperative that we take swift action to curb the spread of these destructive termites.”
The problem of termite infestation in Lautoka was first reported to the Biosecurity of Fiji in 2009, with little attention given to the issue, resulting in widespread infestation and property damage.
Hon Tubuna also highlighted the lack of an active database for reporting, stating; “There is a pressing need for an organized reporting system to map out the problem and plan effective solutions. Biosecurity currently only has records of those who voluntarily report infestations.”
In a collaborative effort with the Lautoka City Council, the TCAP pilot project will see the development of mechanisms to register complaints.
Residents will soon be able to file reports with the Council if they suspect termite infestations on their property.
The Council will then issue reports to TCAP partners for inspection and treatment planning.
“The partnership with the Lautoka City Council is crucial in the implementation of TCAP. By fostering community engagement and establishing effective reporting mechanisms, we can collectively address the challenges posed by termite infestations,” Hon Tubuna said.
As part of TCAP’s comprehensive strategy, the City Council, in collaboration with Biosecurity of Fiji, will develop a database for termite infestation in Lautoka and conduct site inspections after treatment works are completed.
TCAP will focus on a comprehensive baiting system from reporting, making baits widely available, and subsidising treatment for households earning below $30,000.
“TCAP is not just a program; it is a collective effort to protect our communities from the destructive impact of Asian Subterranean Termites. Through strategic collaboration and community involvement, we aim to create a resilient defense against the threats posed by these invasive termites,” Hon Tubuna reiterated.