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Archived News: July 2023

From Fiji Times (29 July 2023)

Barge heads to Rotuma with supplies

By Pekai Kotoisuva

A Government Shipping Services (GSS) barge loaded with fuel supplies is currently on its way to Rotuma to address the water issue faced on the island.

This was confirmed by Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Sakiasi Ditoka yesterday.

"The barge will depart Suva at 7pm today (Friday) and arrive in Rotuma on Sunday," he said.

"The priority for the ministry now is to ensure that people receive water as soon as possible, as this is a basic need.

"I wish to assure the public, particularly those on the island of Rotuma that the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development is closely working with all relevant stakeholders and key agencies of Government to address any other issue that may arise due to the current situation."

Mr Ditoka added they were also looking at proactive ways with the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) to ensure this issue did not happen again in the future.

Concerns have been raised about the shortage of essential items on Rotuma as members of the community grapple with a lack of water and electricity, and dried up shop shelves after a change in schedule for the monthly freighter to travel to the island.

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (28 July 2023)

Fuel supply on its way to Rotuma

By Praneeta Prakash

The Water Authority has hired a barge to ship a total of 90 drums of fuel to Rotuma to operate the water treatment plant on the island and maintain water supply services.

Chief Operating Officer Seru Soderberg says that it was imperative and urgent to take fuel across as soon as possible to avoid any further disruptions of water supply to customers on the island.

He says they are working closely with relevant stakeholders and the government to get assistance across to Rotuma.

He says they are sending 90 drums to cater for the team's water operations and pumping needs, with the aim of ensuring the water supply is not affected.

Soderberg adds that until the barge safely arrives in Rotuma, WAF will be operating the water treatment plant for a few hours daily, and customers are requested to use the treated water for drinking and preparing food only and use water sparingly.

From Fiji Times (28 July 2023)

Lack of basic needs concern Minister Ditoka

By Elena Vucukula

The Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Ministry has expressed concern at the shipping services to Rotuma with reports reaching them of the lack of basic food items and fuel on the island.

Yesterday Minister Sakiasi Ditoka said they were trying to organise a response to the island's shipping ills.

"We are very concerned about the situation at the moment," Mr Ditoka said.

"I've just sent our deputy secretary to the meeting with the Ministry of Transport and Government Shipping to see how they organise a response to the shipping needs of Rotuma.

"We are very concerned about the reports we've been receiving of the lack of fuel and other necessities."

Mr Ditoka said those were issues that confronted the commercial sector.

"Where commercial entities try to meet the needs and try to pair that up with their own commercial interest as well," he said.

"I believe that's where the tide is happening and the need is prevalent from within other areas as well.

"I think that is where the problem is arising, when you focus on one part of Fiji, another part of Fiji suffers."

Mr Ditoka said government ministers had discussed the problems and that "we have to find a way for other commercial entities to enter the market".

"I believe it's only proper we have a normal shipping service to be online again and I think that is the responsibility of the Government to make sure that happens."

From Fiji Times (28 July 2023)

Fuel shortage on island | Change in shipping schedule affects Rotuma

By Rakesh Kumar

The change of schedule of the monthly freighter Goundar Shipping Ltd has affected life on Rotuma.

The people of Rotuma are without water and electricity and schools have been forced to close because of a shortage of fuel on the island.

Police on Rotuma have confirmed schools closed on Wednesday and the island is without water and electricity.

Filipe Makrava, 53, of Oinafa Village said the shops on the island were also running out of food.

"This problem started with the change of schedule of our monthly freighter (boat schedule)," Mr Makrava said.

"The boat from the Goundar Shipping Ltd is supposed to come to the island with the supply every month, but for this month it hasn't arrived.

"There is no fuel here now and because of that, we are not only facing water cuts but an electricity cut on the whole of Rotuma."

Mr Makrava said as a result, transportation on the island has also stopped on Monday and this forced the closure of schools, adding the problems had been ongoing for two weeks.

"All schools on the island closed yesterday (Wednesday) and the electricity was cut off on Tuesday."

Fellow islander Salote Albert raised similar concerns.

"I don't know why the boat is not coming but the disruption to the shipping service has affected us badly," Ms Albert said.

"There is no water in our taps, and we have to rely on rain water. Some basic food items such as sugar, flour and rice have also run out in the shops.

"I feel sorry for extended families and families who have babies because milk, sugar and other things are so important."

Questions sent to Goundar Shipping Ltd managing director Subramani Goundar remained unanswered.

Questions have also been sent to the Education Ministry Acting permanent secretary Timoci Bure.

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (23 July 2023)

Rotuma's lost chants and dances identified

By Peceli Naviticoko

The people of Rotuma are currently on a mission to protect and maintain their so-called preserved chants and dances.

This follows the research findings conducted by Rotuman Academia Makereta Mua on the descendants of the pearl divers on Torres Strait in the 1870s, where 14 lost chants and dances of Rotuma were identified.

Mua says there is a strong similarity between Rotuman's chants and those of the Mari islanders in the Torres Strait.

“There were 14 Rotuman chants and dances that the Rotuman in Fiji have lost, and they are kept and preserved by the Mari Islanders like anything I’ve ever seen.”

Mua says that though the lyrics are not recognizable after more than 170 years, the dances and movements could still be known by the Rotuman elders.

Im happy to say that every single Rotuman elder that I showed it to confirmed without any doubt that it was Rotuman.”

Following this finding, Rako Pasifika is working with Mua to have the 14 lost Rotuma chants and dances produced and brought to life as a part of theater production for future Rotuma generations.

"The reason for us to do that is so that all of this knowledge and stories of our elders do not remain on shelves, and while they may have been forgotten, they are not lost."

Though the work may have taken a longer process, Rotumans are willing to have it produced and even presented it to the Torres Islands with the thought of a healthy exchange for this bit of history they hold dearly.