Na Yavusa Veitacini e na Tikina Cokovata ko Wainibuka;
Na Vanua ko Nakorotubu, Turaga na Gonesau;
Gone Turaga na iTalatala;
The Minister for Defence, National Security and Policing;
The Acting Commissioner of Police;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.
I am very happy to be here to commission this modern Police Post to serve the people of the Nayavu and Wainibuka District.
It was a little more than one year ago that we opened the new village access road here, so the people of Nayavu can move freely and transport goods in and out of the village even during very wet weather, which was not the case before. And the children attending the Wainibuka District School no longer have to choke on road dust when they should be able to concentrate on their lessons and the joys of being in school. This Police Post is just one more piece of infrastructure that makes this village more secure and keeps it connected with the rest of the country.
We all remember the devastation that Tropical Cyclone Winston caused in this area four years ago. Communities like Nayavu depend on Police to guide them through an emergency and help them recover in its aftermath. And it is Government’s job to make sure that the Police are able to give that critical emergency aid to the community. And so we built this Police Post following the Build Back Better principle under the new Fiji National Building Code, and it can now withstand a Category 5 cyclone.
It is also very important that our Police have a modern facility, with the latest equipment and with adequate living quarters so that the Police can be a part of this community. That is when policing works best. A community doesn’t just need Police when a crime is committed; it needs a Police presence to prevent crime and to help the community stay safe.
The Police should know the people and help them look out for the safety of the children. And if another natural disaster hits, the Police must be able to give aid and support, to lead early rescue and recovery efforts, and to communicate with our national response networks.
We know we will see more natural disasters, and we must be prepared. And that means our Police Post must be strong, secure and well equipped. Our Police can’t serve the community if they have no reliable base of operations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, building strong, modern Police Posts is one way to show the importance we Fijians give to Police work. We expect our Police to act professionally and maintain the highest standards of performance and integrity. That means we need to support them. As a society, we owe them and ourselves Police facilities that are modern and functional. Our Police Posts should reflect the pride we have in ourselves and our Police and the value we place on the work our Police do for us.
This Police Post was built with funds from previous years’ budgets, but as many of you know, our current national budget continues my Government’s long-term public works effort. The facilities and infrastructure that we have built are critical to our national economic growth and the commitment we made to end inequality in this country.
My Government has steadily extended services and opportunities to rural areas and to the most disadvantaged. That is why we have rebuilt and upgraded schools and local community health centres.
It is why we have delivered legal assistance and internet service to areas that had never had them before. It is why we build better roads so that people can transport their goods, and so they can travel more easily to market, to hospital or to visit family. It is why we build modern Police and Fire Posts to protect the people.
All of these projects are valuable in and of themselves. But they do one other thing: They provide good jobs for Fijians. They provide jobs for Fijians who do the building. They provide jobs for Fijians who supply building materials and services. And when those people get paid, they buy things they need. They buy food and clothing and school supplies and household good. And that creates more jobs and more income for Fijians.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is no time to stop. With our economy slowed by the corona-virus pandemic and our society in a struggle for its health, it is up to Government to be the locomotive that keeps us going.
And this budget, and the jobs we create through public works, means hundreds and hundreds of jobs for Fijians, and millions of dollars that can circulate through our economy.
We are sacrificing a lot right now, but there are limits to how much I will ask my fellow citizens to sacrifice. We have established a curfew, and we ask our Police to enforce it, which they do. And we were forced to close the country to visitors. Both of those were hard decisions, but they were necessary. But building and creating jobs is also necessary, and we will move forward wherever we can. And we will come out of this dark period stronger than ever.
So today we commission this building officially to the future of Nayavu and Wainibuka. We celebrate the fine work of our Police and the resilience of the Fijian people, and the strong community that you have built—which is now stronger and more secure.
And although I know that you have been using this Police Post for a while now, I am grateful you have asked me here to officially declare it open.