22 Jan 2003

Fiji minister criticises relief response after Cyclone Ami

9:40 am on 22 January 2003

A Fiji government minister has attacked the lack of action by the national disaster body, DISMAC, in providing immediate relief to those affected by Cyclone Ami in the northern and eastern islands.

The Fiji Times says the attack has come from the minister for works, Colonel Savenaca Draunidalo.

Col Draunidalo says a lot of improvement is needed in the National Disaster Management Centre if it is to respond immediately and efficiently to natural disasters.

He says DISMAC also needs to review its disaster survey teams because at present clerks and junior officers are being sent.

Col Draunidalo says senior people who could make immediate decisions on the spot should head survey teams so that cyclone victims who need urgent help are provided immdiate assisatnce.

He says when he visited two villages near Savusavu, the elders and the headmen nearlyu broke down in tears because they had lost everything and desperately needed food and shelter.

Col Draunidalo says he had to ask the DISMAC centre in Savusavu to immediately supply them with food because otherwise they were in danger of dying from hunger and disease.

The minister has also questioned why DISMAC was giving instructions from Suva to Labasa to reduce the line of communications and the cost of logistics.

His criticisms come ahead of today's cabinet meeting which will discuss cyclone relief.