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FIJI: 3000 Ovalau villagers in Fiji forced to move by TC Winston damage

The front page report in Wednesday's Fiji Times.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Item: 9633

Losalini Bolatagici
SUVA (The Fiji Times/ Pacific Media Watch): About 3000 people from nine coastal villages on Ovalau in Lomaiviti will be relocated because of the devastation caused by severe tropical cyclone Winston.

Consultations between the affected villagers and the iTaukei Affairs Board on demarcated boundaries and relocations have already taken place with the Mineral Resources Department carrying out its geospatial investigations on suitable sites.

Roko Tui Lomaiviti Ratu Penieli Velitikoduadua said this had been done as a result of a survey carried out by the Pacific Community (SPC).

He said the nine villages that needed to be relocated are Toki, Vuma, Tokou, Natokalau, Rukuruku, Nauouo, Vatukalo, Arovudi and Taviya because they were badly affected by the cyclone.

Not only were they devastated by the strong winds, but the villages were also battered by tidal waves.

According to the SPC, some of the villages are located below sea level.

Statistics obtained from the Levuka Disaster Management Office revealed that these villages have a combined household of 504 with a population of 2948.

Roko Tui Vuma, Suliasi Tawake said the village boundary was demarcated last year but the devastation caused by Severe TC Winston has urged the people to move to higher ground.

"People now want to move away from the current location," Tawake said. "The location of our school, which is on the hill, is where they all want to relocate to."

Maika Tunitoga of Tokou Village said they had unanimously agreed to move after being consulted by the itaukei Affairs Board.

He said the new site had also already been identified and they were just waiting for feedback from Government on when the relocation would take place.

Tunitoga said the experience they had with Severe TC Winston was a horrible one and they did not want to go through that again.

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