Field surveys have established that Cyclone
AMI caused widespread damage to dwelling houses in both the North and Eastern
Division, says Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
The extent of the damage is shown in the following figures:
- in Lau and Lomaiviti, but mostly in
Lau -- 237 houses were partially damaged and 158 completely destroyed -
the total estimated cost - $2.2 million; and
- in Macuata, Cakaudrove and Bua, and mostly in Macuata and Cakaudrove -- 5,300 houses were partially damaged and 2287 completely destroyed; total estimated cost $11.6 million.
Mr. Qarase said Cabinet has agreed with the recommendation of the Ministry of Regional Development that $4.5 million of the Ministry's 2003 Capital Budget allocations be re-directed towards this housing rehabilitation programme.
"Clearly, more funds are needed," said Mr. Qarase. "The Ministry of Finance will consider this."
In the past, Government assistance for housing rehabilitation has either been in the form of a direct cash payment of up to $1,200 per household, or the purchase of building materials up to $5,600.
Unfortunately, Mr. Qarase said this has often been abused.
To ensure the integrity of Government's housing assistance on this occasion, Cabinet has decided on the following guidelines:
1. It will apply only to victims of Cyclone AMI whose homes were either damaged or totally destroyed;
2. It will apply to those who are not regularly employed and do not contribute to the FNPF. (Those in employment should get assistance from the FNPF under the scheme the FNPF has announced);
3. Assistance by Government will only be for building materials up to a maximum value of $5,600 and the assistance is for the most senior person in a household;
4. The supply of building materials is to be based on a survey and assessment by the Ministry of Regional Development, and the Ministry's rural housing unit carpenters are to assist the house owner in the re-building of the family home; and
5. The houses will be of a standard size of 24ft x 16ft, inclusive of a bathroom and toilet and certified cyclone resistant on completion.
Mr. Qarase said those who require housing assistance should apply through the nearest District Officer or the Divisional Commissioner.
"Assistance will be provided following an on-the-spot assessment of the damage and the assistance needed."
Mr. Qarase said the rebuilding of damaged community owned buildings like multi-purpose halls will be a separate and additional programme of assistance by Government, but this will also be implemented through the Ministry of Regional Development.
He said priority will be given to damaged multi-purpose halls in locations identified as important evacuation centres in future emergencies.