Step up relief operations, Chaudhry urges State

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU/FILE

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry is calling on Government to step up its relief operations to help families affected by the recent severe flooding in various parts of the country.

He said farmers who had suffered substantial crop damage should also be given priority for urgent assistance.

“The high number of complaints pouring in show that, once again, the Government has failed to prepare for emergencies caused by natural disasters,” the former prime minister said.

“Warnings of heavy flooding were issued several days ahead and the NDMO should have been prepared for the disaster. Why was this not done?

“In fact, once we get into the cyclone season, the relevant authorities should make sure food packs, bottled water, medicines and other essentials are ready for immediate despatch to affected areas.”

Mr Chaudhry said Government should announce its relief and rehabilitation package as soon as possible and not spend weeks on assessment surveys, as in the past.

“People’s needs are immediate. They must get assistance now.”

Mr Chaudhry said he had received reports from all over the Western Division that people were still waiting for relief some six days after the massive flooding brought on by Tropical Cyclone Cody.

“Families in Lovu, Lautoka, near the seaside, who suffered severe flood damage to their homes, say they have not received food packs from the Government. Nor do they have water to clean up their flooded homes.”

He claimed Nasolo and Natutu villages in Ba which were also inundated with floodwaters, faced similar problems.

“Those in evacuation centres were told to go back and clean their homes. How can they do so if there is no water?”

In an interview with this newspaper, Disaster Management Minister Inia Seruiratu said the Commissioner Western and his team were organising a ration distribution for those sheltering in evacuation centres.

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