Lack Of Materials Hinder Cyclone Reconstruction In Fiji

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

School repairs by Australian Defence Force a big challenge

By Losalini Bolatagici

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 14, 2016) – The unavailability of resources has been a major challenge for the Australian Defence Force in carrying out rehabilitation and reconstruction work in Rakiraki in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

This was revealed by Lieutenant Colonel Trynt Xavier of the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, as they work on completing Rakiraki Muslim Primary School, their final project in the area.

"One of the biggest challenges has been resources. Everyone obviously has gone through quite a big disaster, roofs have been damaged so things like the corrugated irons for roofing, materials needed to actually build the tresses are in big demand at the moment and trying to get hold of that to build schools have been quite a challenge for us," Lt-Col Xavier said.

Rakiraki Muslim School is the third school they are repairing in the district apart from the hospital which has just been completed.

Headmaster Gulshard Ali said the Australian military engineers had lifted a burden off their shoulders in repairing the massive damage caused by the Category 5 storm.

"There was a big mess left by Winston. The entire roof of the three classrooms was gone and there were a lot of debris lying around. The children were quite saddened on the first day after the hurricane when they came to school but a quick relief from the Australian engineering team eased a lot of burdens from our shoulders," Mr Ali said.

"They took six days to get the entire roof in place and the students are eager to go back to their new classrooms."

Lt-Col Xavier said seven days were spent at the school, the first day was actually to search for construction materials.

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