Monday, September 10, 2012

Bua Villagers Concern for Bauxite Pollution of their Fisheries

Fiji Times News

Bauxite spill claim

A GROUP of villagers in Bua have raised concerns over depleted marine resources in their qoliqoli blaming bauxite as a contributing factor.

The villagers of Naiviqiri District have taken their concern to the chiefs of Bua asking for their assistance in resolving the issue.

District rep Salacieli Tuala claims bauxite that accidently went into the sea during the loading process was harming marine life.

"We appreciate what the company has brought to our shores especially the development for the province of Bua and for the nation." "But we are concerned of our welfare and our future generation and we are asking the company to at least carry out their processes of doing business in a way that will not affect our daily supply of food like the sea food," Mr Tuala said.

He said villagers have had to find new areas to fish and collect mussels for their daily sustenance.

"The area where the jetty sits and its surrounding were popular areas of fishing for our women. " "But now they have to go elsewhere, out into the deeper area of the sea to catch fish and this means hiring of boats and extra costs." "Even us men, we have to move into the deeper part of the sea to collect sea food for our families," Mr Tuala said.

Bauxite mine manager Basilio Vanuaca said they have followed proper procedures in off-loading bauxite to the barge. "There is abundant fish in and around the jetty. Lekutu River is close to our jetty and during rainy days, spews of soil gather in and around the areas of where these women and our own employees get kaikoso and dio." "Having said that we see these women with 5-6 large bags of dio, kaikoso and fish every week to sell to Labasa market." "We only ship bauxite three times at a duration of not more than 15 days each. It has rained far more than that and women are there in the sea daily," Mr Vanuaca said.

He said bauxite had been flowing into the sea even before it was termed as bauxite. "So I am not sure how they have concluded that bauxite is what causes this issue they are raising." Divisional fisheries officer northern Gerald Billings yesterday said they were not aware of the matter. He said they would only look into the matter if villagers lodged a formal complaint with the department.

by Serafina Silaitoga And Salaseini Vosamana

Read related story on Dust Pollution from Bua Bauxite Mining:

Dusty road a hazard
Salaseini Vosamana
 Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A GROUP of parents in Bua refused to send their children to school yesterday because of dust from trucks loaded with bauxite that run the road to the jetty.

The parents of Waibunabuna Primary School in Lekutu claim they've experienced the dust since the bauxite mine opened.

Speaking on their behalf, school board member Dinesh Chandra said they were worried students would get sick as a result of inhaling the dust. "Most of the students walk from their homes every morning and when they reach the school, they need to bathe again because they're covered in dust," Mr Chandra said. "They clean their classrooms in the morning and after one hour, they're dirty again because the ten-wheeler trucks just continue to throw up more dust. "We have written to the relevant government departments to request assistance but our plea seems to be falling on deaf ears."

Resident Manoa Vutudromu said his house was always closed during the day when the trucks were running. "I am really concerned about my family's health and I make sure all our clothes are hung out at night and not during the day," he said. "It's really sad to see children walking along the road covering their faces when these trucks pass. "We were informed that an access road would be built to cater for the students and also the main road would be tarsealed but we're still waiting," he said.

Mr Vutudromu said they hoped the authorities would look into the matter.

Bua provincial administrator Inoke Tagicakibau said they had a truck to splash water on the main road. "For now, a truck is diffusing water to stop the thick dust from entering the school compound and this will be an ongoing process until the situation improves," he said.
"The government will soon upgrade the Dreketi and Nabouwalu highway and such developments include the tarsealing of the Lekutu road."

North education officer Mere Fisher said she was not aware of the matter but would liaise with the school.

Queries sent to Xinfa Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited spokesman Basilio Vanuaca remained unanswered.

No comments: