Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (July 2) - Another hike in fuel prices is going to hit the poor hard. At a time when hundreds of families are struggling daily to make ends meet, the rise in the fuel price is not exactly what they need. In particular the rise in the price of kerosene from FJ$1.15 a liter to FJ$1.28 a liter will have a great impact on the many households, which rely on kerosene for cooking.

They need kerosene for their stoves because they cannot afford the gas or electric ones. Some also need kerosene for their lamps because they cannot afford electricity. The unfortunate thing is that we are in a helpless situation because we cannot do anything about the prices of imported fuel, which are dictated for the world market. We know of the drastic effects worldwide fuel price increases have had on the economies and lives of the people.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Fiji Daily Post, gasoline prices have climbed by 24 Fiji cents, to $1.98 per litre, about FJ$7.48 per gallon, or US$4.72 per gallon.]

There are two ways we can tackle the situation. One is to cut down on fuel consumption. Another is to look for alternative sources of renewable energy.

Consumers need to seriously consider measures to conserve energy. While there has been no vigorous awareness campaign around the country on this, families have to pay attention to small things such as turning off a light in an empty room or using firewood instead of kerosene stoves whenever it is practicable. Instead of neighbors, friends or family members both driving to work, they can share a car. Better still both could use public transport such as a bus. There would be less traffic on the road and less chances of being caught in a traffic jam.

Taxi and bus operators will undoubtedly want to push for fare increases to offset the rise in operating costs.

We are also fortunate that we have alternative sources of energy locally available.

A Government-sponsored mission recently found that a bio-fuel industry has the huge potential to build the economic, social and environmental resilience Fiji needs by using locally available biomass resources to replace imported fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel and kerosene.

The setting up of wind farms, although on a trial stage at the moment, is another alternative source. There is also solar and hydropower to be considered in the long term.

We, like other nations in the world, are at the mercy of the oil-producers and the prices they dictate to us. There is a big need to reduce our dependency on fuel because of the negative impact on the economy soaring fuel prices have.

The government needs to take the lead in tapping on these sources of energy, which are renewable, sustainable and environment friendly.

We just do not have a choice anymore.

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