24 Jan 2003

Fiji PM promises to build village evacuation centres in response to Cyclone Ami

4:27 pm on 24 January 2003

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says the government will build evacuation centres in villages.

Mr Qarase made the promise after visiting villages in the country's northern and eastern divisions devastated by Cyclone Ami last week.

He says rural areas should have safer evacuation centres for people during natural disasters.

Mr Qarase says the government started funding the construction of community and recreation centres in villages in 2001 and the evacuation centres will be built under the same scheme.

He says government funded multi-purpose could also be used as evacuation centres as well.

Mr Qarase has also assured villagers that the agriculture ministry will supply them with farming tools and seeds to start a new life.

Meanwhile, people on Rabi island, home to Banaban people from Kiribati who settled there 50 years ago, say they have suffered extensive damage and need food for the next six months.

The chairman of the Rabi Council of Leaders, Iakoba Karutake, says there are 5-thousand people on the island who rely on their food gardens but they have all been destroyed.

In another development, the opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has called on soldiers to help clean up Labasa town and other areas if an outbreak of disease is to be prevented.

Mr Beddoes says the people are still traumatised by the cyclone and are unable to look beyond their immediate circumstances.