Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Aug. 27) - Every week we hear of families or entire settlements and communities having no water.

Today we learn of a community in Nadi that joins a long list of disgruntled people rightly angered by the State's inability to provide it with what is within its basic rights.

One can only imagine the suffering a family has to endure when living without clean, piped water for one week, let alone three weeks. Not only could it be a health hazard, it in most cases means an added burden on a family's already-strained financial resources.

Some families are even forced to stop their children going to school. These families tell how their past three weeks have been a nightmare and how the Public Works Department appears to be disinterested in their complaints. So much so that no emergency water has been carted to these affected areas.

The reasons for this remain a mystery because those authorized to publicly speak on the issue were unavailable to comment. Nor were there any broadcasts to tell affected residents the cause of the problem and what the department was doing to fix the situation.

As in the recent past, the aging infrastructure will most likely be blamed for the unfortunate disruptions.

There is also the increasing demand for water as a result of the population explosion within the urban centers.

For these reasons, the disruption was unavoidable. But in choosing to remain silent on the matter and, worse still, in not providing emergency water, the department has failed in its role. What then of interim Public Utilities Minister Ratu Jone Navakamocea's vow to ensure his department will be proactive in responding to such problems?

He had said that in situations like these he expected "immediate transportation of water to affected areas" and "effective public relations and dissemination of the right information" to the public. Now would be a good time for the interim minister to ensure those on the ground are working in cohesion with his plans.

Emergency water must be carted to these affected areas. It is the State's responsibility to ensure they dispatch the water trucks. A lack of funds is no excuse.

If the State can find money for exploration trips to the Middle East or China, then surely it can find the money to cart water to these struggling families.

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