Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good afternoon to you all.
Today is very special to me, because I get to do something I always love to do — Celebrate the fact that good, practical common sense has prevailed and made people’s lives better.
Common sense has prevailed because we listened to the people of Galoa when you asked for Government help to supply water to the island by pipe. Until this new system we are commissioning today was finished, water had to be brought in by boat. And I remember that Napolioni Saraqia said that carrying water to Galoa by boat was a waste of time, money and effort, especially since sometimes half of the water had spilled during transport.
So two years ago, you asked my Office for a system to supply water by pipe. And that is what we have here today.
It is astonishing that we were carrying water much the way our ancestors did centuries ago, when the technology has existed to supply it directly. After all, if we can supply water by pipe on land, we can usually supply it by pipe across the water.
And Lekutu is close—close enough to make a submerged water pipe to Galoa very practical.
So there will be no more trips to the jetty to meet the water boat and fetch water back to the house. There will be no more time wasted fetching water that could be used more productively. The children will have reliable water for their school. And there will be less danger of water-borne diseases because you will be able to draw the water when you need it.
Fresh water is simply too precious to be supplied to people in a haphazard manner. In today’s Fiji, people must have a reliable supply of water. That means they should have access to water when the seas are rough, or when there is drought.
Our Fijian Constitution enshrines the right to adequate water for all Fijians and our 20-year National Development Plan paves the way to the realisation of that right for all Fijians. Day by day, project by project, we are extending reliable supplies of clean water across the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not allow hard-working Fijians to live the way we live centuries ago when we have the means to provide the advantages of the modern age. You choose to live in this wonderful place. It is your home, a place of natural beauty. But you should not have to pay for that privilege by enduring constant uncertainty over whether you will have the most basic necessity of life—fresh, clean water.
That is why my Government has made it a priority to close the gap between Fiji’s urban areas and its rural and maritime areas. It is not always easy to provide essential services to rural and maritime areas. But the things that are worth doing are usually hard.
So we must do them, and we must find the ways that are sensible, practical and most cost-effective. That’s what we have done here. Common sense has prevailed. And it prevailed because we listened to you.
So today, it is I who must thank you—for speaking up and working with your Government and the Water Authority of Fiji to bring you the water you deserve.
So I hereby commission this water system, and I wish all of you the good health and the peace of mind that a reliable source of water will bring you.