Na Vunivalu, Na Turaga Tui Namosi;
Na Qase ni Vanua o Nabukebuke;
Na Turaga na i Talatala kei na Turaga Matua Tabu;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
It is an exciting time for Fijians living in the Namosi Province. You’ve seen your roads and schools upgraded. Your children have now access to higher-quality education. By virtually any measure, you are benefiting from Government services more today than at any time in Fijian history. This latest development builds on that success by marking yet another milestone. Because today, I have the pleasure of officially opening the Dada (Namosi) Government station.
This new Government Station will service four Tikinas – Veinuqa, Wainikoroaluva, Naqarawai and Namosi – made up of 18 villages with a population of approximately 4,000, with two secondary and seven primary schools.
And this project was initiated by those very Fijians – community members of the upper Namosi region – when you came to us with the request for a more accessible government station.
You told us about the long journey you used to have to take to travel to Navua for basic health needs, or Debua for agricultural services. You explained the time and cost of this journey, and how it was taking a toll on your quality of life. And my Government listened.
Upon hearing your concerns, my Government pledged to delivering this 1.5-Million-Dollar investment. And I choose those words intentionally – I don’t like to refer to this as an expense, or as a cost to Government, but as an investment. You’ll hear me saying this whenever I speak about my Government’s visionary plan for building a better future in Fiji. Because wise investors realise the price of infrastructure today will pay for itself in the long term as Fijians reap the benefits long after the project is commissioned.
Whether it’s a school or a road, increasing access to clean water or affordable electricity, my Government knows that the payoff from these investments will benefit Fijians today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. And that is certainly the case with the investment that we’ve gathered to celebrate today. Gone are the days when parents and children had to travel to the Navua Hospital for basic medical needs. Gone are the days when farmers needed to journey to the Deuba Ministry of Agriculture office for seedlings and advice.
My friends, this new station marks the beginning of a new chapter. Through its doors, Government services will instantly become more easily accessible. We are easing the burden of travelling to receive such services, we are saving you time and money, allowing you to spend those precious hours generating income and, most importantly, taking care of your family and your community.
And I know that, as a region where farming is central to your lives and livelihoods, that time is particularly precious. That’s why I’m confident this facility will serve you well, and the benefits that the Ministry of Agriculture can be provided with unprecedented ease.
Through the new, on-the-ground presence of the Ministry of Agriculture’s field staff, farmers in the upper Namosi region will have more frequent visits from the MOA staff. The accessibility of agricultural technical advice and services will enhance the agricultural sector in the Province, boosting production yields and allowing you to farm the right crops at the right time in the right way –all to the benefit of both your own income and Fiji’s food security.
And it’s not just this office that will uplift your communities – in fact, I’m excited to say that this is just the beginning.
We have big plans for other Government offices and quarters to be constructed soon, including a Level B Health Centre, Namosi Provincial Office, and a Ministry of Forests branch, allowing the new government station’s officers to come directly to you for an even wider range of services.
But as you know, my commitment to delivering tangible progress to Fijians isn’t limited to Namosi. Far and wide, we are replicating these success stories all throughout Fiji.
On my recent visit to the Northern division, we commissioned millions of dollars in new infrastructure projects designed to ensure that the opportunities before ordinary Fijians are as vibrant and rich as anywhere else in the country. And later this week, I plan to take the overnight boat ride to Koro Island to open yet another milestone roading project.
I think it’s clear that our actions speak louder than words, but let me say it anyway: All Fijians have the right to live a healthy and productive lives, and it is my Government’s sacred commitment to make that happen for each and every one of our fellow citizens, no matter where in our islands they call home.
But make no mistake: The economic growth that has allowed us to spread the yields of our harvest far and wide across Fiji haven’t come by luck or chance. The path to success has been carefully charted throughout my service to the Fijian people as Prime Minister, and it has been based on the fundamental recognition that a prosperous economy can only be built on the merit of our people.
There are no shortcuts to national progress. You need talented, dedicated people in the right positions. You need the best doctors caring for our sick and injured.
You need the best teachers educating and uplifting our students. You need the best board members and executives managing our industries, growing our provident fund, and building strong businesses.
I challenge all of us to look at our fellow Fijians not through a lens of their ethnicity or upbringing, but through a lens of their skill, their passion and their potential. And I challenge you to look at yourself with that same perspective; never think, “I’m too young for that job”, or “I come from the wrong background to hold that position”. See yourself like this Government sees you, and like I see you: Rooted in equality, and reaching for greatness.
For young Fijians, especially, I want each of you to know that your Government wants to make leaders out of each and every one of you. It’s not about who you know. It’s not about what Province you come from. It’s not about your ethnicity or who your parents may be.
There is no position beyond your grasp. There is no path you cannot follow. In fact, you’re each fully capable of blazing new paths of your own. I won’t get in your way. Just the opposite – my Government will be there to support you every step of the way.
My friends, God has given us Fijians a challenge. He put us on more than 100 islands scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean, and then gave us the opportunity to form a nation. But our creator didn’t give us any burden that He thought we could not overcome. While there are great physical distances that separate us, we can never use geography as an excuse for inaction, for lack of services or for lower expectations and economic prospects. That is unacceptable in any country that calls itself a democracy. The fact is that geography is just another challenge for us to conquer – and we Fijians are good at conquering challenges, against any odds.
With those few words, it is my great pleasure to declare the Dada (Namosi) Government Station officially open.
Vinaka vakalevu – Thank you.