Calls for assessment of water project's impact

January 8, 2024 12:44 pm

Concerns are rising over the potential impact of the Viria Water Project on local fishing grounds in the area.

The Vunivalu of Viria in Naitasiri have raised concerns regarding the lack of assessments to determine the impact of the Viria Water project on their fishing grounds.

While acknowledging that the project site is government-owned land, Ratu Joseva Malobitu emphasized the importance of a proper valuation to identify fishing grounds that the five villages can utilize.

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Ratu Joseva Malobitu

Villagers have reportedly witnessed a decline in seafood delicacies catch prompting the need for a thorough evaluation.

“We want this assessment to take place because governments keep changing and so we need to be aware of the areas which we can use to fish. They need to survey the area and demarcate the areas clearly.”

Ratu Joseva expressed dissatisfaction with the advice given to villagers to keep a distance from the project site, citing the inconvenience caused by the lack of clarity on the specified perimeter.

He also emphasized the necessity for comprehensive consultations and assessments to be integral to the government’s focus aiming to prevent any unfortunate incidents related to the Viria Water project.

“No villager is going there right because accidents can happen for instance, someone can swallowed into the water pipes. We have advised the villagers strongly to keep away from the project site and this is part of our fishing ground.”

Village Headman Poasa Tuinacau

Village Headman Poasa Tuinacau highlighted the encouragement for villagers to make more use of the land.

“Villagers are now concentrating on planting more root crops but this is also a challenge because majority of the villagers use the river.”

Previously, reliant on selling clams and other seafood delicacies in markets, villagers are now facing challenges that have compelled them to explore alternative means of sustaining their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, Minister for Public Works Ro Filipe Tuisawau has assured the public that updates on the project will be provided in the coming weeks.