Residents severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston in the north-west of VitiLevu have received desperately needed relief supplies during a three day tour of the region by the Attorney-General, Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
The AG fanned out across a wide area with two other Government ministers - the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. Hon. Rosy Akbar, and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Hon Parveen Kumar.
They distributed a large portion of the 10,000 food packs that have been donated to the cyclone relief effort by two of Fiji’s biggest companies – CJ Patel and Punja and Sons. They also began the distribution of a large number of kitchen utensils donated by R.C Manubhai.
The AG’s tour took in cyclone-ravaged areas of Raviravi, Karavi and Yalalevu, (Ba) on Friday, Korobuya, Nabutini, Busabusa and Veisaru (Ba) and Korovou (Tavua) on Saturday, and Nadhari, and Navia (Ba) on Sunday.
In addition, Minister Akbar visitedMaruru, Yalalevu, Clopcott ,Nukulua, Vatuvui and Sarava. And Minister Kumar visited Veisaru, Veitiyaka, Qerelevu, Nakavika, Nabatolu, Itatoko, Korovutu and Navoli.
It was the first time many of those affected by Cyclone Winston had received any form of assistance since it cut a swathe through the region a week ago. And residents expressed their relief and thanks to the AG and the two other Minsters.
An emotional Teja Singh, who is a 71-year-old farmer in the Raviravi area of Ba, said he had lost all his belongings in the cyclone and was very grateful to have finally received some assistance.
“No-one has visited us until now and I am very happy to see you”, he told the AG, “ I have lived here all my life but have nothing left. All my possessions are gone and my sugar cane has been damaged. We desperately need help so thank you for coming with this food”, he said.
Another resident, Naushad Ali, said that of all the cyclones in his lifetime, Winston was the worst.“ It is the first time that I have seen a cyclone cause so much damage. Everything is still wet and our things are ruined. Please help us,” he pleaded.
Vijayanti Mala also warmly thanked the AG for the assistance he had brought and said it meant a great deal to her and her family.
“Our roof blew away and nothing much is left. We all desperately need help. My son is getting married soon but my kitchen has been damaged. How am I going to prepare for the wedding?”, she asked.
The AG said all Fijians must stay united as the relief effort continues and help each other through the challenge of the coming weeks and months.
“ It is critical that we all come together as a nation at this time. It is the only way we are going to put this tragedy behind us quickly. Many of the people we were able to help are Fijians who had fallen through the cracks of the relief effort so far. We have to keep improving the delivery of food water and adequate shelter. We cannot leave anyone behind. So I appeal to everyone to highlight areas of acute need so that the Government can step in and provide prompt assistance”, he said.
CJ Patel has donated 5000 food packs valued at $232,000 and Punja and Sons another 5000 valued at $129,000 to assist the relief effort. R.C Manubhai have donated kitchen utensils to the value of $15,000 and mattresses and roofing supplies worth another $20,000.
The AG warmly thanked all three companies for their contribution to alleviating the plight of cyclone victims.
“Fijian companies are responding magnificently to our call for assistance and I want to pay tribute to CJ Patel,Punja and Sons, R.C Manubhai and all those other companies who are being exemplary corporate citizens by supporting their fellow Fijians in this crisis”, he said.