SPEECH: PRIME MINISTER HON. VOREQE BAINIMARAMA SPEECH AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE QELEKURO VILLAGE WATER SUPPLY

Turaga ni Yavusa Naqele,
Turaga ni Yavusa Naicula,
Turaga ni Yavusa Dere,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Boys and Girls of Qelekuro Village, and
Government Officials,

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all,

As we all know, water the most basic resource we all need to survive. Without water, we die. Without access to clean water, we can get very sick. And there are still places in Fiji where ordinary people have trouble accessing clean water. Including all of you in Qelekuro – this seaside village in Tailevu, 25 kilometers from Korovou.

But today is a great day for Qelekuro – as we officially turn on your new water supply. And for the first time, bring you water that is clean enough for you and your children to drink without boiling. A supply you can rely on and uses the latest technology and equipment.

I’m delighted to be here to turn on the tap on a new era. And to share what I know is your joy that the days of worrying about the quality of your water are over. More than 200 Fijians living in 47 houses able to finally access not only enough water but more than enough for their present needs.

I’m told that your new source up in the high lands now supplies Qelekuro with a total yield of 193 cubic meters of water a day. That’s 193,000 liters compared to an average daily demand of 68,000 liters a day. So there is now adequate water not only for your existing needs but for any growth in the future.

I know this couldn’t come soon enough for you all. Because as you know, we have had to fast-track this project as a matter of urgency after the Ministry of Health warned about the health risks of drinking from the old water supply. We have taken that warning very seriously, making this a project of the highest priority. And I have taken a personal interest in making sure the work was commissioned and undertaken as fast as possible.

As a Government, we simply cannot tolerate a situation in which the health of our people is jeopardised in any way. And I’m pleased to say the necessary work has been done as quickly as possible and to the highest possible standard.

At a cost of $90,000, we have built a new dam, a new 45,000 liter ferro-cement tank, laid more than 3,000 meters of pipe and installed 36 sets of standpipes and showers in the village.

It is a major improvement in the lives of the people of Qelekuro and a major investment in your futures, providing you with a safe, secure supply of water to drink and to wash with now and for many years to come.

The days of worrying about illness are over. Just as they are for many communities and families in Fiji as my Government reverses decades of neglect and is progressively rolling out all the basic services Fijians need and deserve. Whether it is access to clean water or electricity, free schooling for your children, better opportunities for higher education, better roads, better bridges, or better access to medical care.

The FijiFirst Government is here to deliver and we are here to serve. And I want to say to the people of Qelekuro what I tell the rest of the country at every opportunity. As Prime Minister, I will not rest until every Fijian – no matter who they are or where they live – has access to clean water, to electricity, decent roads, better education, better health facilities, better telecommunications and all of those things our citizens should have as we build a modern nation worthy of who we are.

It is obviously going to take time to provide every Fijian with all the things we would like to give them. But if you look at what we have been able to achieve already, we have an impressive record and we are convinced that we will eventually achieve our ambition.

While our political opponents take cheap political shots at us and fight among themselves, we are quietly going about the business of improving your lives and giving your children the opportunities we all want for them. To be educated properly. To grow up in a Fiji where there is opportunity for them to lead worthwhile and fulfilling lives. To play their part in moving our nation forward. Making Fiji great.

I know most people in Qelekuro are subsistence or commercial farmers. But whether you work your own teitei or take your produce to market, there is a range of government assistance to enable you to develop new opportunities. Yesterday in Rakiraki and Ba, I had the great pleasure to hand hundreds of small and micro business people $1000 in new material or resources to either start new businesses or grow existing ones. Some of these people are farmers. And we are progressively rolling out this program across the country and will eventually bring it to Tailevu.

I urge all of you who are farmers to consider applying for this scheme. Just as I am urging our women artisans across the country to take advantage of the opportunities my Government is providing to link them with buyers and improve their income-earning ability by also using the Fijian made logo.

You will hear from my political opponents that Fijians and especially the iTaukei are being disadvantaged under this Government. I want you to decide the truth of their claim. Because I respect the intelligence and commonsense of the Fijian people and their ability to judge for themselves.

Remember, these are people who were given the opportunity to deliver the same level of services when they were in office but failed the test. They are all talk and no action. False promises now to match the false promises they made when they were in office and delivered nothing substantial at all.

As I’ve said before, don’t take my word for it. Look at the evidence and decide for yourselves.

*Who has provided your children with free schooling and the best possible chance any young Fijian has ever had to get a higher education – to go to a university or technical college and fulfil their dreams and those of their families? FijiFirst.

*Who has united our country as never before? Ended the years of division and argument and set us up for the future we deserve – one nation, one people with opportunity and prosperity for all? FijiFirst.

*Who has produced one of the longest periods of economic growth in Fiji – 5.3 per cent last year – with all that means for the creation of jobs and opportunity? FijiFirst.

My Fellow Fijians, I call on you all here in Qelekuro and throughout Tailevu to reject the message of division being spread by our political opponents. It is simply a lie for SODELPA to say the iTaukei are disadvantaged. Because the truth is the iTaukei have never been stronger. Their ownership of their land is guaranteed in our Constitution. iTaukei children are being given opportunities to be educated and get well paid jobs that their parents and grandparents could only dream of. iTaukei traditions and culture remain strong and are valued by every Fijian. And far from there being any threat to Christianity, the Christian message and practice of peace, love and understanding is stronger now in Fiji than ever before.

So turn your backs on the false prophets preaching doom and spreading lies to suit their own purposes. Because the truth is the future of the I’Taukei – the future of our entire nation – has never been brighter. More opportunities. More reason to be happy. More reason to work together to bring everyone with us on our wonderful journey forward. And more services like your new water supply as we manage and grow our economy properly for the benefit of everyone.

My fellow Fijians, it’s wonderful to be here with you in Qelekuro today. So without any further delay, let’s turn on the tap and drink to the health of the people of Qelekuro. And drink to the health of every Fijian.

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you.