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Ovalau has po­ten­tial that can be used to im­prove ru­ral liveli­hoods. This was high­lighted by Min­is­ter for Ru­ral and Mar­itime De­vel­op­ment and Disas­ter Man­age­ment, Inia Seruiratu, fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the two-day tour of the Eastern Divi­sion by Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama yes­ter­day.

He said Gov­ern­ment had un­der­taken projects on Ovalau and it looked for­ward to the con­tin­u­a­tion of more de­vel­op­ments in the com­ing fi­nan­cial year.

“I did talk about po­ten­tials. Again, this is where the co-or­di­na­tion with key agen­cies is so crit­i­cal be­cause Ovalau has a lot of re­sources that can be well utilised to im­prove the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties’ liveli­hoods and of course con­trib­ute to the growth and de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try,” the min­is­ter said. Mr Seruiratu and other Cab­i­net Min­is­ters had ac­com­pa­nied the PM on the tour. Dur­ing the tour, the Gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion vis­ited ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties on Ovalau, met and lis­tened to mem­bers of the pub­lic about some of their con­cerns. There were is­sues con­cern­ing in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments and im­prove­ments, ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, wa­ter and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues that were raised dur­ing the ta­lanoa ses­sions. Mr Seruiratu de­scribed the tour as “very suc­cess­ful and fruit­ful”. “It was an op­por­tu­nity to visit the projects that have been com­pleted and at the same time, hold dis­cus­sions with the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and key stake­hold­ers of Ovalau, the busi­ness com­mu­nity, the ad­min­is­tra­tors in Levuka and of course Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and other stake­hold­ers,” he said.

“We have also had the op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. Of course, there are is­sues in re­gards to Gov­ern­ment’s ser­vices that need to be ad­dressed and we have given the as­sur­ance to them that we will con­tinue to work on the ser­vices that need to be im­proved and of course en­sur­ing that no one is left be­hind.

“We have heard the civil ser­vants as well. There were some is­sues that they did raise that the Com­mis­sioner Eastern will look into. There are some lim­i­ta­tions and con­straints in Levuka be­cause of it be­ing a her­itage town, but of course the CEO of Levuka Town Coun­cil has given his as­sur­ance in terms of the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of work, par­tic­u­larly in the ren­o­va­tion of quar­ters, of­fice build­ings and schools.

“It is very crit­i­cal for the pop­u­la­tion here in Levuka; the need for more hous­ing be­cause Gov­ern­ment is de­cen­tral­is­ing its ser­vices and a lot of Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are mov­ing in to Levuka through the var­i­ous min­istries and agen­cies and they need to be pro­vided with proper hous­ing and of­fices as well. We will look into their con­cerns.”

The two-day tour ended yes­ter­day.

Photo: Min­istry of Ru­ral and Mar­itime De­vel­op­ment and Disas­ter Man­age­ment

Min­is­ter for Ru­ral and Mar­itime De­vel­op­ment and Disas­ter Man­age­ment Inia Seruiratu with school chil­dren of Tokou Vil­lage on Ovalau.

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