The Ministry of Waterways plans to dredge a total of 80,000 cubic meters of silt and soil from the Labasa, Wailevu and Qawa Rivers in Vanua Levu to mitigate any of their overflow into the residential areas of Qawa Flats, Soasoa Flats, Basoga, Vunivau, Namara, Nagai Village, Nacula Village, Wasavulu Village, Nailawa, Nasekula Village, Wailevu Flats and Tabadola Flats.
This was noted in Parliament by Minister for Waterways, Dr Mahendra Reddy, who confirmed that dredging works would begin in the next two months.
“There were minor floods but since 1998, there was no major flood. Prior to that, there were some major floods which resulted in loss of lives as well, so we now began again the process of ensuring that we dredge and increase the frequency of water flow in these three rivers, which are the three major programme activities.”
Dr Reddy stated that the three rivers were identified as having major problems in getting upstream sediments and therefore subject to frequent flooding with medium to very high intensity of rain and flooding in nearby communities, affecting both their households and agricultural sector.
“Labasa Town and surrounding farming areas have been frequently subjected to flooding and this is not only in the town area but also the households and the agricultural sector in Vunimoli, and Korotari areas.
The Labasa River, Qawa River and Wailevu River dredging works actually began in 1998, where a total of 11 kilometres of dredging works were involved in the first phase to open up the heavily silted river mouths to access free flow of water. Since then, 80,000 cubic meters of silt and soil were removed from the river beds in these three rivers.”
While answering questions from Opposition Members of Parliament (MP), Dr Reddy confirmed that approval has been made for proper drainage work at Siberia Rd, one of Labasa’s largest residential areas. He said drainage had been a problem there for the past 10 years, and that the area became inaccessible to foot traffic and vehicles during rain.
“The process is that we need to get an engineer to scope the work- that has been done, quotations have been taken and last week the Permanent Secretary had approved for the work to be undertaken for Siberia.”
Flooded rivers have been a prevalent issue throughout the country, with commercial and residential properties inundated with flood waters in certain areas of Nadi, Ba and Rakiraki during the wet season.
Dr Reddy said the issue of flooding in Rakiraki was two-fold.
“Firstly, we need to first clear the entire Penang River of debris. Secondly, once that is done, then we will need to not only deepen dredge but also widen it. We are looking at the tender- it has been closed. We are also looking at the processing with the Ministry of Economy and giving out to potential earthworks to undertake the dredging works.”