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.
Fiji Roads Authority workers clear one section of the road in Veisari following the massive landslide on November 14, 2017.
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.
Fiji Road Authority manages to clear more debris from the landslide at Veisari outside Lami by 5pm on November 14, 2017.