Turaga Na Tui Nasavusavu;
Na Turaga na iTalatala;
Honourable Ministers and Assistant Ministers;
Water Authority of Fiji Board Chairman and Members;
Water Authority Chief Executive Officer and Staff;
Members of the Media and Private sector;
Ladies and Gentlemen.Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
It is a pleasure to end Day Three of my Northern Tour commissioning the new state-of-the-art Savusavu Package Water Treatment Plant –– a development worthy of your town’s future as a growing hub of business and tourism for the country and, simply, a better place to live.
A decade ago, Fiji’s water and wastewater sector was at serious risk of regressing. Years of under-investment and short-sighted planning had produced ageing and increasingly unreliable pipes, treatment plants, reticulation systems, and other water and waste-water infrastructure. Fiji was left extremely vulnerable, not only to the traditional pressures like an increasing population but to new and worsening challenges like the climate crisis. Cyclones, like TC Winston, have shown they can disrupt or even demolish old and cheaply built water and waste-water assets.
Changing weather patterns place us at risk of having both too little water in the dry season – as droughts can starve our reservoirs – and too much water in the wet season, as heavy rains can contaminate raw water and produce flooding that damages pipes, treatment plants, pump stations and manholes. Unchecked, these events could make clean water and sanitation harder than ever to access in Fiji –– erasing generations of development progress in a matter of years, or even hours, as we saw during Cyclone Winston.
We were not prepared to watch helplessly as that happened. We are mustering the investment, the political will, and, above all, the vision necessary to protect and improve water and sanitation access. And we are getting that job done through novel and sophisticated solutions that my Government alone has proven it can supply.
Since 2009, we’ve allocated over 1.56 Billion Dollars towards water and wastewater projects. Those resources have built resilient infrastructure that can withstand climate impacts –– because we understand that we must either pay now to build back better or risk much higher costs on our communities when future storms strike. We have replaced pipes and valves, built and upgraded reticulation systems and reservoirs, protected freshwater resources, and expanded waste-water treatments. We’ve also ensured equity by providing free water to low-income families. In times of drought, we’ve carted water to the most remote regions of Fiji. And we do the same anywhere in Fiji whenever and wherever the water supply is cut due to burst pipes or other asset damage.
Our actions are helping to avert the worst. Instead of being driven backwards by the headwinds of the climate crisis, our investments in our water and sanitation assets are taking Fiji forward for the benefit of the communities you call home, the businesses that you run and that you rely on for your livelihoods, and your health and well-being.
We just commissioned a 20 megalitre raw water treatment plant in Waiwai in Ba last week, and here we are a few days later ensuring safe water for a growing Savusavu. The previous Savusavu Water Treatment Plant had a treatment capacity of one million litres per day. This new station has a capacity of five million litres daily. It can handle high turbidity levels –– which means it can supply potable water even during storms and floodings. This plant also has been equipped with automated chemical dosing, an upgrade from the tablet and drip feed system, that ensures efficient treatment of raw water that is supplied at Fiji’s national drinking water standards. Simply put, this is as quality and reliable as Fijian water can get.
This raw water treatment plant has been constructed at a cost of 4.58 Million Dollars and is fully funded by your Government –– and it is a development we delivered despite the pandemic and the impact of storms like TC Yasa.
This investment will serve the township of Savusavu and its communities, businesses, Government stations, the Savusavu Hospital, hotels, resorts in the Savusavu area as well as the Savusavu Jetty and Airport, for the benefit of over 10,400 Fijians, and there is provision for more new connections in the future.
My friends, despite the cyclones, the floods, and the global pandemic, this promise of a reliable, resilient, and future-oriented waste-water treatment plant has been delivered. The world has never been warmer or filled with more climate risks. Regardless, we are making sure that Savusavu has never had a more reliable water and waste-water supply. Your town has been made more resilient, your development aspirations are set on a stronger foundation, and your children’s future is more secure.
And the best is yet to come: Savusavu and all of the Northern Division will continue to share the benefits of the proven leadership my Government supplies, the promises we make and keep, and the vision we are always working towards of a stronger, more modern, and more compassionate Fiji. That is more than my duty as your Prime Minister –– it is my personal commitment to each of you.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.