mailife - - Advertisement - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos by IVAMERE ROKOVESA

Build­ing our Na­tion

The mil­i­tary is not just about guns. At Fiji’s in­de­pen­dence on 10 Oc­to­ber 1970, the then Prime Min­is­ter, the late Ratu Sir Kamis­ese Mara said that we did not only take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of in­de­pen­dence for our­selves but we took it on for each other. Al­most 47 years down the line the na­tion build­ing role of the RFMF’s En­gi­neer Reg­i­ment has gone largely un­no­ticed. MaiLife got a glimpse of their work when we were in­vited to travel with the Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Squadron to Ro­tuma to see the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond phase in construction of the is­land’s much an­tic­i­pated hospi­tal. It took 33 hours to reach Ro­tuma 646 kilo­me­tres to the north. An is­land 13 kilo­me­tres long and 4 kilo­me­tres wide with a land area of ap­prox­i­mately 43 square kilo­me­tres, Ro­tuma is de­pen­dent on Fiji and con­sid­ered the 12th largest is­land of the group. With a cur­rent pop­u­la­tion of 2002, many more Ro­tu­mans live on main­land Fiji islands – about 10,000. Ro­tuma is of­ten de­scribed as a ‘hid­den par­adise’ with lush green veg­e­ta­tion, beau­ti­ful blue sea with white sandy beaches and sway­ing co­conut trees. But there are flaws in such a re­mote par­adise. Ro­tuma has re­mained with­out a proper hospi­tal. Pa­tients who need ur­gent med­i­cal treat­ment have had to char­ter flights to Suva – an ex­pen­sive af­fair. Last month Pat­ter­son Ship­ping’s Spirit of Love ves­sel car­ried 54 men be­long­ing to the RD Sqn who were be­ing de­ployed to the is­land for 13 months to com­plete the construction of the hospi­tal. The RFMF En­gi­neer Reg­i­ment has since com­pleted 20 projects all over Fiji as part of its na­tion build­ing pro­gramme. Serv­ing the peo­ple in the mar­itime

Mem­bers of the RFMF En­gi­neer’s Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Squadron be­gin their task of build­ing the hospi­tal in Ro­tuma.

Han­dle with care. Sol­diers get to work in Ro­tuma.

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