Villagers plead with MPs after petition rejected in Parliament
20 February, 2020, 11:49 am
“PLEASE hear our cry.” This is Nahigatoka Village headman Alipate Qaraniqio’s plea to members of Parliament after a petition by 900 Sigatoka villagers was refused to be admitted for discussion in Parliament by Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
The petition which was submitted by Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka was against the plan to mine magnetite at the mouth of the Sigatoka River.
The petition had requested that Parliament “refer to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources to conduct a holistic inquiry into the planned mining of the Sigatoka River mouth with the view to protect the interests and wellbeing of the people of the tikina Nasigatoka and surrounding communities”.
“We do not agree with what has happened because we had brought to our rep our cry for help and it was not accepted in Parliament,” Mr Qaraniqio said.
He said the sand mining that was being carried out at Kulukulu in Sigatoka had destroyed their kanakana and has had a huge impact on their farms.
He said they were extremely disappointed with what happened in Parliament on Tuesday.
Mr Qaraniqio said if the Parliamentarians visited the site where the mining was taking place they would then understand their cry.
“I would humbly ask the Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to please accept the petition from the several villages in Sigatoka.
“We had signed a first petition last year where 1000 people signed and this year again 900 people signed the petition but it was still rejected.”
He thanked the Opposition members for visiting the mining site yesterday and seeing for themselves the predicament villagers were in.
The Opposition walked out of Parliament after the Speaker’s ruling and did not return when sitting resumed yesterday morning.
Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya said they had written to the Speaker to express their concerns and they would decide on their return to Parliament once they received a reply.