The idea to build a funeral rites facility was first mooted in Parliament by the National Federation Party (NFP) in 1992.
It did not become a reality when the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) party led by Sitiveni Rabuka was in Government.
Twenty-six years later, the FijiFirst Government spent $920,000 to enable the Hindu and Sikh communities to complete the final rites of a person’s death in a dignified manner.
“Today we have the same leader (Mr Rabuka) wanting to become the Prime Minister and the NFP possibly joining them which was the whole irony in this,” the Acting Prime Minister, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said at the official handover yesterday.
“We have a Government that believes in ensuring that all Fijians are treated equally and are given the level of dignity that every human being in this world deserves.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said their priority was to ensure that the Constitution’s demands were fulfilled in a practical and tangible manner.
Hindus and Sikhs have to carry out further rituals after the cremation before the entire process was completed.
“This is why such a facility is very important and indeed necessary,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“This facility, although the Government has built it, it’s not ours, it’s yours.”
He urged the communities to look after the facility.
“Please ensure that any person wanting to use the facility is given the priority to use it.
“We must treat all the people who require this facility to be given the opportunity to do so.”
Government has plans to build similar facilities in other parts of the country.
Works are under way in Nausori.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that they were working with the Raralevu committee to look at bringing in gas-driven furnaces for cremation purposes.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that under Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama: “Today we have, a Government that believes in ensuring that all Fijians are treated equally.
“The Constitution ensures that every citizen in this country is given that respect every human being in this world deserves.”
Sayed Abdul Khaiyum (middle) during the opening of Vatuwaqa Funeral Rites Facility on May 11, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.