The Office of the Prime Minister was one of the forty (40) organizations which consisted of twenty-two (22) Government ministries/departments, nine (9) statutory bodies, seven (7) private organizations and two Non-Government Organizations that took part in the first Navosa Roadshow at the Vatumali Government Station from May 14-15, 2013.
For the first time since the 1970 Independence, Government Ministries & Departments, statutory organizations, private companies and NGOs took their services up the Sigatoka Valley to the doorsteps of the people of Navosa.
Vatumali was a hive of activity as the people of Navisa came in hundreds on foot, by carriers, by bus, tractors, on horseback while some slept overnight in nearby villages to be there over the two (2) days.
In opening the two-day show, Minister for Youth & Sports Viliame Naupoto launched the 1 million trees for Navosa by planting a sandalwood plant in Vatumali.
Overwhelmed with gratitude and joy, 71-year old Turaga ni Mataqali Nabukelevu Polione Uluinasau, of Nukubalavu while resting inside the OPM booth said the Road show indicated that Government still cared about the people of Navosa despite its drug record and he is blessed to have been alive to witness this.
“My village is a red zone for marijuana, the police have been coming to us, other organizations have been visiting us and now to have the whole of Government coming to Vatumali to listen to us is definitely a blessing from above,” Mr. Uluinasau said pointing to the sky.
“Even though the Prime Minister is not here, the presence of staff members from his office is sufficient enough because I believe they will listen to my kerekere (request for assistance),” he said.
Mr. Uluinasau was one of the 22 cases that visited the OPM booth with issues which were referred to responsible ministries and resolved on the same day at Vatumali.
He returned with more fellow villagers on the second day to be part of the talanoa session which was chaired by Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development and Disaster Management Deputy Secretary, Mr. Ratumaitavuki.
“If this Road show was held at Sigatoka, I doubt that we would be served in the same manner, we are usually the forgotten ones when we go there even for any provincial event,” he said.
Same sentiments were echoed by others like Vilimone Mataiwai of Draubuta who with his village school committee came to Vatumali with a request to have a primary school built in their village.
Draubuta is one of the remote villages in the upper Navosa which has more than 100 primary school students from the village attending primary education in the neighbouring villages like Nukuilau.
“We have the numbers but we don’t have a primary school – our children have had to wake up early to walk two or three villages away to attend school; we want to know how we can have one school of our own,” Mr. Mataiwai said.
He was referred to Education Officer Western Division Mr. Udre who gave him a checklist which Mr. Mataiwai’s village should have before they can have a school built at Draubuta.
They need to have at least six (6) acres of land with the consent of landowners to be utilized for education; they should have some funds on hand as part of their contribution to the erecting of the buildings, and should be consistent with the number of children as a school cannot be operating with less than 10 children per class.
According to Divisional Planning Officer Ratu Alipate Naulivou, more than 2000 people visited Vatumali on the first day while on the second and final day more than 3500 people crowded the Vatumali Government Station ground.
Nadroga Navosa Provincial Council vice-president and retired secondary school teacher Lokimi Kunagogo said the two (2) days will not only go down on record but with be cherished by the people of Navosa because it was the first time that instead of them travelling long distances to be served, they were served right at their doorsteps.
“This Government is improving our roads, we know have electricity – what is left now is for us to change and be partners with Government in building this nation for a better tomorrow,” Mr. Kunagogo said.
The Sigatoka Valley Road is undergoing developments and it is now at the Waicoba Village junction, electricity up to Keiyasi village is expected to be energized by early June this year. Navosa Central College was energized in April this year including staff quarters.
More than 200 people visited the OPM booth of which the Development Cooperation Facilitation Division managed to have twelve (12) projects countersigned by the Provincial Administrator, twenty-two (22) referrals while others came in enquire ways in which they can be assisted by Government or merely to have talanoa sessions.
The Public Relations team consisting of Epeli Vuase, Aman Nath and Kemueli Qio were conducting consultations in Navosa starting from Waicoba from Monday, May 13th to Wednesday May 15th while the OPM exhibition team consisting of Karalaini Waqanidrola, Paulini Tarogi, Jo Uluilakeba, Penaia Naqase and Wiliame Foaikilau manned the booth over the two (2) days.
Vuase and his team left midday Wednesday to continue consultations in Cuvu and surrounding villages and were joined by OPM Deputy Secretary Naipote Katonitabua and SFCCO DS Edward Tunidau up to Friday.
Government ministries that took part in the road show: Public Service Commission, Ministry of Education, Fiji Correctional Services, Department of Agriculture, FICAC, Department of Energy (Rural Electrification), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, National Archives and Library Services, Ministry of Health, iTaukei Affairs, Immigration Department, Local Government, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Women, Department of Forestry, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Youth & Sports, Ministry of Justice, Meteorology Services, Ministry of Defense, OPM, Ministry of Urban & Rural Development; Statutory – LTA, FIRCA, National Food and Nutrition Committee, iTaukei Land Trust Board, TFL, Water Authority of Fiji, Fiji Development Bank, Fiji National Provident Fund, FEA; Private: FNU, USP, ANZ, Bank of Baroda, Bank of the South Pacific, Westpac, Life Insurance of India; NGO – FENC & the Adventist Disaster and Relief Agency.