Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
Last Thursday, I was in Namoli Village outside of Lautoka to officially unveil a beautiful new $700,000 seawall, and the very next day, I joined Fijians in Tailevu to commission another half-million-dollar seawall in Dravuni Village.
And today, I join you all in Nadroga for the third seawall commissioning to grace Fiji in less than one week’s time.
Thanks to this latest project – coming at a government investment of $438,000 dollars – Rukurukulevu Village is the latest coastal community to be blessed with the added security and peace of mind that only a seawall can provide.
Rukurukulevu Village has long been at the forefront of a changing climate, suffering from strengthening storms and rising sea levels. Coastal erosion threatened the community – even during normal high tides, waves would splash into the village. During cyclones, that problem became life-threatening – waves over a metre high would sweep into the village grounds, lapping at your doorsteps and even entering your homes.
Your village’s former low-block wall was constructed without proper design, and it simply didn’t offer the protection that your families needed. Over the years, it was damaged by strong waves, making the need for a proper replacement all the more apparent.
That’s why, after hearing your plea for help, my government stepped in. Knowing that Fijians in Rukurukulevu already suffered due to substandard construction in the past, the Ministry of Waterways knew they had to get it right. They conducted a thorough survey and proposed the design of the remarkable new seawall we see today – 400 metres of reinforced, raised concrete seawall that will protect you from surging waves for years to come.
Even as Fijians all throughout the country grapple with the devastating impacts of climate change, we cannot be defeated. My government will continue to do everything in our power to keep Fijian families safe, keep your communities secure, and keep your livelihoods stable.
The need for these new seawalls across the country is evidence of how vulnerable our coastal communities can be to the impacts of our changing climate. But, just as Rukurukulevu is not alone in dealing with climate impacts among Fijian communities, Fiji is not alone among the nations of the world in dealing with climate change. This is a global issue, that requires global solutions; solutions that Fiji’s leadership is helping to forge on the world stage.
The Rukurukulevu Seawall is just the latest evidence of a much larger vision that is unfolding before our eyes – a vision for a country that can overcome even the largest of challenges, tap into our true potential, and pave the way for a brighter future. And a vision for a world which is not threatened by humankind’s irresponsible exploitation, but instead, one that sustainably thrives alongside humanity. I promise you this: I will continue to work, day in and day out, to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a Fiji, and a planet, that we can be proud to pass on to them.
I’m sure you all may have some questions about the next steps for Fiji’s health directives relating to COVID-19. We’re finalizing our assessments on how we responsibly take Fiji forward into the post-COVID era, and we’ll have announcements to make this week, at the launch of our new mobile contact tracing application, on the re-opening of schools and the scale back of other measures.
Vinaka vakalevu, and God bless.