Caption: Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka and senior officials of the Ministry based in the Northern Division with the villagers of Naiqaqi in the district of Wailevu in Cakaudrove following the commissioning of their foot-crossing.
SAVUSAVU – Villagers of Naiqaqi in the district of Wailevu in Cakaudrove burst into celebration yesterday as the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka commissioned their newly constructed foot-crossing.
Funded under the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management’s Community Access Roads, Footpaths and Footbridges (CARFF) Programme, this investment by Government is expected to benefit more than 20 households from Naiqaqi Village.
Naiqaqi Village women’s group leader Ms. Sesarina Batimatana acknowledged Government for the assistance, saying it has brought them much relief, especially in getting to and from their homes.
“I was brought up here at Naiqaqi Village. During that time, we were using coconut trunks to get to and from the village. This was normal for us for the last 50 years. Whenever the water level rises in the river that separates our village from the main access route, the coconut trunks would be swept away by the strong currents and we would then have to swim across the river to get to the other side,” recalled Ms Batimatana.
A few years ago, the villagers raised funds to construct a temporary wooden crossing.
“This was helping us a lot but due to its exposure to the changing weather, the planks of the crossing was damaged, leaving us to resort to what we previously used, a coconut trunk. Whenever a person gets sick in the village and needs immediate medical attention, we would carry them on our backs and cross the river so they could get the help they urgently need. It was very challenging.”
“But, this help from Government is very much appreciated by all of us. We now have an improved and safer way to get to and from our homes, and our children also have a good crossing to get to school. We are very happy and would like to really thank Government for this assistance,” she added.
In addressing the villagers, Minister Ditoka said it was the hope of Government that the new infrastructure would enable them to realise some of the potentials they have within the village to not only help support their families, but also contribute to the revival of the rural economy in the Northern Division.
Caption: Naiqaqi Village women’s group leader Ms. Sesarina Batimatana walks across their newly built foot-crossing to get to the village.
The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management is responsible for implementing development strategies that bring Fijians living in rural and maritime regions the same level of access to essential services and economic opportunities as anywhere else in the country. We coordinate and implement the Fiji Government’s rural and maritime development initiatives with a mission to empower Fiji’s rural sector. We also spearhead disaster risk reduction initiatives at national and sub-national level including disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. We have offices for each of Fiji’s 14 provinces including Rotuma, leading the Fiji Government’s rural development and disaster risk management operations.
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