Vanua Vakaturaga o Nacolase;
Turaga na Tui Tavuki;
Turaga na i Liuliu Ni Wasewase;
Turaga na iTalatala Qase;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.
We are here to dedicate this upgrade of the water system that has served this village for many years.
As you know, it is my Government’s aim and commitment to close the gap in the standard of living between the urban and rural areas of Fiji, and clean drinking water is fundamental to good health and a high standard of living.
I go to some villages that have had very crude and basic systems for delivering water. And I have been to others that had to bring in water by boat. And I have been to other villages that have had systems that simply needed to be modernized and upgraded.
That is what we are doing here. It is simply not enough to put a water system in place and then forget about it until it breaks down and needs to be fixed urgently.
A broken water system is a health disaster waiting to happen. Water must be kept pure and safe, and that requires us to constantly monitor and assess the systems that are in place. We need to be sure that the systems are resilient and will continue to function through storms and other natural disasters. But we need to be sure that they continue to function properly even when they are not under stress.
This new system was tested during Tropical Cyclone Harold, and it emerged with only minor damage. Harold did not take your water because it had been secured through better infrastructure. As any of us who have reached a certain age knows, everything breaks down just a little over time. I wish I could do all the things I could do when I was 25 years old, but I can’t.
Water systems age, too, and when they do, we need to fix them. The difference between water systems and people is that we can actually make water systems like new again. That is what the Water Authority of Fiji has done here. For years you have had to suffer intermittent water supply. You never knew when you could draw water and when you couldn’t.
In some ways, that is worse than having no water at all. If you have no water, you can plan to get it. But if you expect to draw water today as you did yesterday and find that there is no water available, you can have a crisis on your hands. You now have the security of knowing that water will be here when you need it.
There is a new storage tank. You will no longer have to carry water in buckets.
You will have water when you need it, which should be standard in a country like Fiji—no matter where you live.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are quickly moving toward our goal of ensuring that all Fijians have reliable, safe drinking water.
I am proud to be here to bear witness to the success of the village of Tavuki, and I wish you all the health, happiness and convenience that a reliable source of clean water can provide.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.