Land­slide Fear

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - Lu­siana Tuimaisala

Fear­ful res­i­dents yes­ter­day linked a big land­slide that closed Queens Rd at Veis­ari for sev­eral hours to cut­ting of trees and heavy rain. No one was hurt but they now live in fear of pos­si­ble fu­ture land­slides. Speak­ing on their be­half, 53-year-old Sere­ana Lu­vuci, who has lived there for nearly 40 years, claimed some peo­ple had been cut­ting trees on the hill re­cently. She claimed be­cause the trees had gone and the rain had loos­ened the soil, a land­slide was in­evitable. Her com­ments come in the wake of a state­ment in Bonn by At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Cli­mate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum about the im­por­tance of forests in our cli­mate change bat­tle. Mrs Lu­vuci said: “Since this high­way was built, this is the first time I have seen a land­slide from this big hill. “They shouldn’t cut down trees be­cause the trees hold the soil to­gether and pre­vent soil ero­sion.” The land­slide blocked the road and held up com­muters to and from Suva in the busy morn­ing traf­fic. The road was re­opened later in the morn­ing.

Res­i­dents of Veis­ari out­side Lami on the Queens Road are wor­ried that any fu­ture land­slides may re­sult in the loss of life.

53-year-old Sere­ana Lu­vuci, who has lived there for nearly 40 years wit­nessed a mas­sive land­slide that had res­i­dents dis­turbed around 2am yes­ter­day.

The land­slide oc­curred op­po­site her house.

“I thank God no one died and no ve­hi­cle got stuck,” these were the first words of Ms Lu­vuci as she watched the huge chunk of de­bris block the Queens High­way. “Since this high­way was built, this is the first time I have seen a land­slide from this big hill,” she said.

Sadly, Ms Lu­vuci says the re­cent cut­ting of trees com­bined with heavy rain in the area al­legedly trig­gered the land­slide.

“Two weeks ago some work­ers came here and cut down the pine trees – that’s what we think caused the land­slide,” she said. “They shouldn’t cut down trees be­cause it holds the soil to­gether and pre­vents soil ero­sion.”

The land­slide caused a traf­fic jam for Queens Road com­muters. While the land­slide oc­curred at 2am, com­muters were frus­trated with the road not cleared un­til six

Since this high­way was built, this the first time I have seen a land­slide from this big hill. Sere­ana Lu­vuci Veis­ari res­i­dent

hours later – at around 8am. San­jay Chan­nan, Di­rec­tor of Suva Elec­tric, was on his way to a morn­ing meet­ing in Nadi from Suva, when he en­coun­tered the traf­fic jam caused by the land­slide.

“It was quar­ter to five and no one [au­thor­i­ties] was here and be­cause it was dark we thought it might have just been a small slip,” he said. Mr Chan­nan said traf­fic con­tin­ued to build as peak hour ap­proached. “We were all like is some­body com­ing?” he said.

An­other com­muter, Na­mu­lo­mulo res­i­dent, Kameli Nav­o­canuta had left Nadi at 2am, car­ry­ing 30 bas­kets of man­goes be­fore get­ting stuck in the traf­fic caused by the land­slide at 5am.

As other stuck mo­torists be­came hun­gry and frus­trated, Mr Nav­o­canuta said he be­gan sell­ing man­goes along the road­side.

The land­slide’s de­bris ex­tended across 60 me­tres of Queens Road at Beni Naiveli farm with the buildup over two me­tres deep, the Fiji Roads Au­thor­ity gen­eral man­ager Net­work Op­er­a­tions and Main­te­nance, Aram Goes, con­firmed. An­other res­i­dent at Veis­ari, who wished to re­main known as Ms Smith, said she heard a loud noise and ini­tially thought it was a car ac­ci­dent or a fallen ob­ject.

“We were at home around 2am yes­ter­day when our power went off, and all of a sud­den we heard a loud thud,” she said.

It was not un­til Ms Smith left her house to go to work at 5am yes­ter­day morn­ing that she no­ticed the enor­mous land­slide. She im­me­di­ately called her boss and ran back to her home to alert her chil­dren not to go to school.

“I’m wor­ried think­ing of our house be­cause it’s close to the hill,” Ms Smith said.

“If the land­slide hap­pens again it might bury our house.”

It was not un­til 10:30am that the Fiji Roads Au­thor­ity’s con­trac­tor Ful­ton Ho­gan Hi­ways man­aged to clear a sin­gle lane, but the sin­gle lane still could not com­pletely han­dle a buildup of traf­fic. Ful­ton Ho­gan Hi­ways gen­eral man­ager, Dun­can Fraser said they had been try­ing their best to re­move the de­bris but warned that there was a dan­ger of fur­ther ero­sion. Mr Fraser said if the rain con­tin­ued to­day, it may be too dan­ger­ous to al­low two lanes of traf­fic. No one was hurt or in­jured dur­ing the land­slide.

Buses that fol­lowed the Queens Road were also af­fected by the land­slide. Pa­cific Trans­port Limited Fleet Co-or­di­na­tor Izyan Shah said their buses could not op­er­ate due to the land­slide.

“When we re­ceived the call in the morn­ing about the land­slide we post­poned our buses that fol­low the route that passes Veis­ari,” Mr Shah said.

“Those that pur­chased the bus tick­ets were in­formed that they can use the ticket for an­other day so they had to find other means of trans­porta­tion.” Sun­set Ex­press Buses Gen­eral Man­ager, Rai­jeli Naivanawalu said their main con­cern were the pas­sen­gers.

“We did ev­ery­thing we can about the Veis­ari land­slide. What we did was trans­fer the pas­sen­gers from one end to an­other,” Ms Naivanawalu said.

“The pas­sen­gers com­ing from Suva got off on one side and walked across the hills to the other side to board the bus that goes to the west on the other side and the bus com­ing from the west pas­sen­gers got off and walked to the other side and board the bus that was wait­ing.” Mr Goes later con­firmed that FRA con­trac­tor, Ful­ton Ho­gan Hi­ways man­aged to clear both lanes at 5pm yes­ter­day and con­tin­ued to clear the de­bris overnight.

How­ever, “the sur­face is still vis­i­bly dirty and the pass­ing lane will not be open for sev­eral weeks through this sec­tion of the Queens Road,” Mr Goes said.

Photo: Ronald Ku­mar

Fiji Roads Au­thor­ity work­ers clear one sec­tion of the road in Veis­ari fol­low­ing the mas­sive land­slide on Novem­ber 14, 2017.

Photo: Ronald Ku­mar

Fiji Road Au­thor­ity work­ers clear­ing land­slide which cov­ered about 60 me­tres of the road at a height of 2 me­tres at Veis­ari, out­side Lami on Novem­ber 14, 2017.

Photo: Ronald Ku­mar

Fiji Road Au­thor­ity man­ages to clear more de­bris from the land­slide at Veis­ari out­side Lami by 5pm on Novem­ber 14, 2017.

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