16 Apr 2018

Fiji cyclones damage and destroy 19 schools

3:40 pm on 16 April 2018

Fiji's acting prime minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the recent spate of cyclones in Fiji has destroyed or damaged 19 schools.

A handout photo taken on 23 February, 2016 and obtained on 24 February, shows damage to a school dormitory on Koro Island as aid arrives and the clean-up starts after the most powerful cyclone in Fiji's history battered the Pacific island nation.

Damage to a school dormitory on Koro Island as aid arrives and the clean-up starts after Cyclone Winston. Photo: AFP

He said nine schools in the west were affected by either landslides or floods, and ten in the east were affected structurally.

The opposition pointed out in parliament today that St John's College on the eastern island of Ovalau had been rebuilt after Cyclone Winston two years ago, yet had sustained more damage.

They asked for assurances that schools would be structurally safe when they were rebuilt.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the college was rebuilt by the US Navy in the flurry of aid offers after Winston.

"Obviously at that time a lot of people wanted to come and contribute and perhaps at that time we should have gone and said to the US Navy, this is the structure and these are the standards we need to adhere to but we did not do that," he said.

"I suppose there was an assumption that if the US Navy's building it, it would be OK and that's something, a lesson to learn from that."

According to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, schools in the Western Division have reopened after a clean up in which he said the military had played a pivotal role.

He said on Kadavu, which bore the brunt of the Cyclone Keni, schools were still being assessed.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he could not give a timeline for when all schools would be operational again but the government would ensure classes got up and running.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Photo: SUPPLIED

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