Turaga na Tui Vuda
Turaga na Tui Vitogo
Cabinet Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka, good afternoon and welcome to the official opening of the new Churchill Park. Churchill Park has always been the pride of Lautoka, but it is now truly a park for a people and a city on the move.

But first, I would like to thank the vanua of Vitogo for the traditional ceremonies. The Sugar City is getting bigger and bolder every day—and much sweeter, too—with this modern park and, of course, the Tappoo City that will be opening soon.

This project is an example of what we can accomplish when local government, national government and the private sector are committed to making a city complete, when we all agree that there is a need to be met.

If we work together, we can solve problems, build for the future and provide the infrastructure and amenities that make a city a healthy community. This project cost $5.5 million. Government contributed around $2.8 million, and the Lautoka City Council funded the rest. And then Tappoos Group came in to build the corporate booths, main entry gateway and the car parks. So it was truly a team effort.
It is Government’s responsibility to be the guiding hand in this, to make sure that as many Fijians as possible are served by government programs, and that we build and upgrade infrastructure and establish new facilities around the country. People in all parts of the country have needs, and I have committed to make sure that no part of the country is neglected.

Every community faces different challenges and has different priorities, and we can’t do everything at once. But we work closely with local communities and we make steady progress. A week ago, I was in the Northern Division to open new projects, like the hydro station at Somosomo, the extension of school facilities at Uluivalili Secondary School, and the opening of water projects in several communities.

And today I am proud to be here in Lautoka. This is Fiji’s second city and a major manufacturing and business hub. Lautoka is an important driver of Fiji’s economic growth. It is growing along with the rest of the Western Division—not just in size, but in sophistication and complexity.

Government has responded by upgrading and expanding government services and facilities here and throughout the Western Division—the courts, law enforcement, health facilities, roads, schools and recreational facilities. Recently, we have been installing streetlights for populated, rural and commercial areas along the Queens Road from Sigatoka to Ba to make these areas safer and more secure at night. And we intend to extend this service to other rural areas in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Churchill Park we will enjoy today and in the future is evidence that government’s ambition for Lautoka and the Western Division is as big as your own. The Western Division deserves the kinds of amenities and infrastructure that will support the athletes who live here and who work hard every day to improve themselves. Now you don’t have to go all the way to the National Stadium in Suva to run on synthetic tracks, because you have them here.

These are all-weather synthetic tracks that meet the standards of the International Amateur Athletic Federation. So when our Western Division athletes compete in big games, they will compete on the same surfaces they have been training on. There will be no surprises.

Indeed, the Coca Cola Games no longer have to be held only in Suva. They can be held in the West, right here in Churchill Park. It also makes Fiji a more attractive venue for regional competitions. And that will extend to swimming competitions as well, because at the end of April we will begin the construction of a modern Olympic-size swimming complex in Lautoka for competitions, a warm-up pool and a children’s pool.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m sure the young people here today are happy to know that the days of training and running on soggy tracks and fields are now over, and I cannot think of any reason why we won’t see new records set in your Secondary Schools Inter Zone meet this weekend.

We are an athletic people. We love sport and games, and we embrace the hard work we must do to be great athletes.

Government can’t make that work easier, but we can remove the obstacles our athletes face. The athlete gives heart and sweat and sinew. All we have to do is provide a proper place to train and compete. They will do the rest.

I thank all of you for turning up in numbers for the opening of these beautiful synthetic tracks. I understand that all Lautoka Secondary Schools are eagerly waiting for the Inter-Zone athletics competition, which will take place right here. I can’t think of a better way to inaugurate these tracks, because they are for you. Please enjoy yourselves and do your very best.

Vinaka vakalevu and Thank you.