The Fiji Day Celebration on Ovalau held special significance for the residents of Nukutocia when a newly funded government foot crossing worth $26,000 was inaugurated on Wednesday, October 11th.
This foot crossing connects the eastern and western sections of the village, providing essential access for a population of 195 individuals residing in 45 households.
Nukutocia village has always been recognized for its determination and unwavering efforts in promoting development. The inauguration of its new foot crossing by Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka, the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, represents a significant milestone in their partnership with the Government.
"Government remains committed to prioritizing the well-being of every Fijian, regardless of where they are located geographically."
"This new inclusion guarantees accessibility to the village area situated on the other side of the creek, regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. This significantly amplifies convenience, particularly for women, children, and the elderly," stated Honorable Ditoka.
The Minister emphasized that these initiatives stand as a national priority, aiming to support rural and outer island communities in fulfilling their fundamental requirements, elevating their living standards, and achieving self-sufficiency.
"The core aim is to offer equal opportunities to every citizen of this country, ensuring that rural and maritime communities actively participate in the nation's growth and development," reiterated Honorable Ditoka, emphasizing the government's commitment to inclusivity and progress for all.
"This foot-crossing bridge serves not only as a convenient pathway for villagers to traverse the creek but also guarantees safer journeys for school children, women, and elders of the village, both day and night," he remarked.
The Minister also spoke to the villagers on the importance of a comprehensive village development plan.
"Significant development necessitates open dialogue, commencing at the grassroots level, where each individual plays a unique role in advancing the path of development.
Hon. Ditoka emphasized that development is not the sole responsibility of a single entity but rather a shared mission that thrives on the synergy of collective efforts.
“By recognizing the significance of the contributions of each individual and uniting under a common vision, we can drive sustainable progress and bring about enduring positive changes for each of our communities and beyond.”
"The importance of integrating climate change and disaster risk management into our development efforts cannot be overstated. Proceeding with development without considering these factors can lead to substantial costs and even disasters. It is essential to incorporate risk-informed strategies across various sectors, ensuring the resilience of rural communities in Fiji," said the Minister.
School teacher and respected advisor to the Nukutocia Village Development Committee, Mr. Luke Vateitei, expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the Government's initiatives and underscored the unwavering dedication of the village towards self-improvement.
"As a village that values leadership and collaboration for the betterment of our community, we swiftly recovered after the devastation caused by STC Winston. Our concerted efforts led to significant improvements in our housing facilities. We have also successfully acquired grass-cutting machines, with 20 more on the way," Mr. Vateitei remarked.
"While we have made progress, there are still areas where we need the Government's support," he continued.
"We are pleased that the Minister has highlighted the importance of integrated village development. Currently, we are working towards the realization of our vision, which includes establishing village cooperatives not only for our village but also for the entire Tikina Lovoni," Mr. Vateitei added.
“This proactive approach by the government mirrors a shared vision for a more inclusive, secure, and prosperous Fiji, ensuring a better future for all its citizens,” he concludes.
The newly commissioned footcrossing not only symbolizes physical connectivity but also signifies the government's dedication to fostering social cohesion, resilience, and progress in every community across the country.