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Senior Government officials,
Residents of the Island of Vio,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I am delighted to join you here today to celebrate the opening of the Vio Island Water Project.

Only two days ago, I was speaking in Tailevu, where I commissioned the Wailotua Naba Dua Village Water Project. Just before that, I was in Ovalau, where we announced plans to pipe water to Moturiki. And today, I stand before you all in Vio to mark yet another milestone for clean water access in Fiji.

For both drinking and proper sanitation, access to quality water is essential. It’s a fundamental right that has been enshrined in the Fijian Constitution, and it is a promise my Government has made to Vio, and to all of Fiji, no matter the geographic obstacles that stand in the way. And while you all had quite a few of these obstacles, nothing stopped us from standing where we are today, marking a new chapter for this island.

Ladies and gentlemen, whenever I have plans to open a new water project, or to announce my Government’s latest plans for one, I know that it’s going to be a good day on my busy calendar and I know that it’s going to be an emotional day as well. That’s because, after opening dozens of projects like this all throughout Fiji, I have come to recognise that few accomplishments bring out the passion in people more than those that provide clean water.

When villagers see the stream of pumped water coming out of a new tap for the first time, they will often break into tears of joy. I’ve experienced many elderly Fijians coming up to me and saying that in their lifetime, they never expected the day to come when they would have a safe and reliable water source. And as I see children lined up with excitement at the new tap, splashing the water on their faces and cupping it into their hands to drink, I know exactly why this is such a moving moment –– more than anything, the provision of water represents progress. It represents the coming of a new day. And it represents a brighter future for our children and grandchildren, who we thank God will never have to go without regular water access like so many of us have.

And today, I know that these feelings are shared by you, the villagers of Vio. Getting clean water to the island has been a hassle, to say the least. Not so long ago, you needed to go to the mainland by boat, fill drums with water from a tap, and cart the heavy containers back to be used for your drinking and washing. It was quite the process –– but you had no choice. Because water is not a luxury; it is a basic human need. And it’s something that you go through any length to get. Over the years, you have proven that first-hand.

But now, I am happy to say that those days for Vio Island are history. The Water Authority of Fiji has extended Lautoka’s existing reticulation system to Vio, piping water from the mainland under the seabed and directly to you, right here in your community.

Government spent over a half-million dollars to make this project happen, and it will be one that forever changes the lives for you and your families. Over 250 Fijians will now benefit from a reliable stream of quality, treated water, allowing you to more freely drink healthy amounts, practise proper hygiene, and improve your standard of living.

But, my fellow Fijians, I urge you not to take this new and steady source of water for granted. Be sure you care for the system, and report any pipe leaks that you see to WAF. And don’t leave the taps running, or treat water like it’s now limitless –– for the sake of our environment, we must all be conscious of our consumption. Your children will be the first to have such reliable access to clean water for the entirety of their lives, so I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to build a culture of responsible water use from the very start. By doing so, this investment will be sure to pay off for many generations to come.

I now have great pleasure in declaring the new Vio Island Water Project officially open. Cheers to you all, and cheers to the future of Vio.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications