GOVERNMENT has spent $16 million in the first round of the Help for Homes initiative in the Northern Division.
Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea, in presenting his report at the Fisheries Forum yesterday, said Taveuni received the highest amount of $7.7m.
Those affected in Savusavu and nearby villages received a total assistance of $5.5m while those in Bua were assisted with $2.7m.
“We have completed our first round of the Help for Homes initiative and should start with the second round soon,” Mr Vocea said.
“The constraint faced now is the shortage of building materials with those contracted to supply it.
“Severe TC Winston was a massive one and nobody was prepared for it so that is one of the reasons of the slow distribution of materials to affected areas.”
Most contractors, he added, were awaiting their supply from Suva.
“We hope this improves in the next round of assistance so we ask you all to please bear with us,” Mr Vocea said.
“It was difficult to get supplies from Suva because Severe TC Winston affected jetties, so we couldn’t get these in via boats straight after the cyclone.
“So the contractors in the North could not meet the demand of building materials and ration. One option we are looking at is to store rations before cyclone season and have strategic locations to store supplies.”
The lack of heavy goods vehicles on Taveuni has also contributed to the delayed supply of assistance.
“The assistance in form of ration and building materials to affected people were delayed because there were not enough big vehicles to transport goods on the island.”
Those who qualify under the assistance initiative by the Government receive a card that has money to be able to buy building materials from hardware shops to rebuild their homes.
There are several levels of assistance — some for completely destroyed dwellings and others for partly destroyed ones.
This article first appeared in The Fiji Times on September 22, 2016.