Three rivers in Labasa in the Northern Division will be looked into immediately for more dredging works which could start in the coming weeks.
Clarifying questions raised by the Member of Parliament Alvick Maharaj, the Minister for Waterways Mahendra Reddy said dredging had been undertaken for Qawa River, Labasa River and Wailevu River because they were identified as having major problems with sediments coming from upstream.
“Therefore the areas are subjected to frequent flooding from medium to very high intensity rainfall and flooding in nearby communities causes a lot of damage not only to households, but also to agricultural sectors in these areas,” Mr Reddy said.
He said Labasa and the surrounding areas have also been subjected to flooding from the Vunimoli and Korotari River.
Mr Reddy said last year the dredger was under repair and about two months ago the ministry commissioned the dredger after repair works were completed.
“We are looking at dredging the Qawa River, the Labasa navigational channel and also plan to move the dredger to Qaleqa area as well, we have identified these three areas.”
He said in the next two months or so the ministry would dredge a total of 80,000 cubic metres of silt and soil form the three rivers which would assist in mitigating any overflow of the river water into Qawa, Soasoa, Basoga, Vunivau, Namara and other nearby villages along Tabucola and Wailevu.
Mr Reddy said since the dredging works began in 1998 there had not been any major floods in Labasa.
“We were lucky to have two dredgers with us, one in Nausori, Luvuluvu depot and one in Labasa, they have been around for 40 years,” Mr Reddy said.
He said the two dredgers would be removed this year and an allocation of $3million had been put aside in the 2017/2018 Budget to purchase new dredgers.
However, he said the ministry was now looking at diverting the amount to undertake some immediate dredging works by outsourcing it for Sigatoka and Penang.
Mr Reddy said for Rakiraki, Ba and Nadi he would give a full ministerial statement on the dredging and flooding issues for them next week on Monday.
He confirmed that for Rakiraki, a tender had been given out, for major dredging work.
“Rakiraki has two stage folds where they have to clear the entire Penang River of debris, and once done than we will need to deepen the river and widen it,” Mr Reddy said.