Editorial comment – Cleaning the mess

Infrastructure Minister Jone Usamate with WAF’s new CEO Dr Amit Chanan and other staff members in Labasa. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

It is interesting that members of the public are being urged to stop dumping household waste down lavatories, drains and sinks.

This habit can actually lead to dangerous and unhygienic overflows of the wastewater system we are told.

Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) CEO Dr Amit Chanan revealed that a recent investigation into the wastewater overflow at the Lautoka City Council car park found that the channel was blocked with old rags, towels, plastic bags, bottles and a handbag.

He reminds us that the problem we have before us isn’t an easy fix either. It is an expensive exercise and this issue, we are told, can cause issues such as raw sewerage overflows into homes, and businesses as well as waterways.

He said when this happens, it harms the environment.

“Environment is a key priority for our operations at WAF and it was concerning to be pointed out by the Department of Environment that one of our wastewater manholes was overflowing.”

In collaboration with the Environment Department, awareness, he said, would be carried out on the environmental impact of wastewater discharges and its effects on the environment and human health.

“WAF will conduct awareness sessions targeted at both residential and commercial customers to address the reoccurring issue.”

Environment Ministry permanent secretary Joshua Wycliffe said they would provide awareness through training programs.

“It is my intent that the ministry and WAF will engage strategically to achieve the objectives of the National Development Plan,” he said.

We also learn that WAF is carrying out inspections and advising traders for compliance and where necessary traders are also warned about their continued disregard against the environment.

It is encouraging to note that WAF and the ministry are working to strengthen their efforts by changing improper disposal habits by reviewing the current laws and regulations to include penalty provisions for repeat offenders.

On the homefront, we are reminded about our roles and our responsibilities. We are reminded about what we should do moving forward.

We know the repercussions of bad behaviour. We know about the negative impact on the environment and we know what we can do together to make a difference.

How about accepting a change at the base? Let’s change for the better at home. Let’s create a level of awareness that will drive this change. Let’s be the catalyst for this transition.

As parents and guardians we can empower our children to embrace change. We can lead by example and we can start the process of cleaning up the ‘mess’ that’s part of our wastewater system!

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