Food sources ‘affected’ by mining

Opposition MP's standing on what used to be a mangrove swamp. The area has now dried up after it was dumped with sand dredged from the mouth of the Sigatoka river mouth. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE sand mining done at the mouth of the Sigatoka River has killed fish in the river and was now encroaching on a marine ecosystem they relied on for food.

A team from this newspaper that visited the site yesterday witnessed waste material littered along the river bank and patches of bare trees.

Namasa Village headman Viliame Kamikamica said they were worried they would soon lose their i-kanakana (food source).

He said villagers had strongly opposed the works carried out at the river mouth.

“All this place was where we used to catch crabs and fish, but now there’s no more,” he said.

Vunavutu Village headman Emitai Karatu also expressed similar concerns. He said an island adjacent to their village which was used for farming had been affected by the mining activities.

Laselase Village headman Mesulame Nainoca said they had to fence part of the river bank to stop the contractors from carrying out their work.

“They were dumping waste material to our side and we had to stop them so we fenced the area,” he said.

Meanwhile, Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka said they would form a committee in Sigatoka to liaise and decide on the way forward.

He said the profile of the issue had now elevated all over the country and even abroad.

“These villagers they have been fighting for this earlier on and I am very happy that even though the petition was refused, both parties the SODELPA and NFP have taken ownership of the challenge,” Mr Gavoka said.

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