Editorial comment – United we must move forward

Carrier drivers operating from the Nadi bus stand area say finding customers these days was getting difficult. Picture: NAVNESH REDDY

Not too many people realise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fijians until they see things for themselves.

It’s difficult to appreciate this when you are far removed from the hardship thousands of Fijians are being forced to live with.

For instance, there are no jobs for carrier drivers in Nadi Town.

This may not matter to many Fijians.

But it has consequences for many people directly and indirectly impacted.

The assistant secretary of the carrier stand in Nadi, Mohammed Naseeb said the situation “is really bad”.

To drive his point through, he points out there are 167 carrier drivers who operate out of the base.

There are now only 20 to 30 drivers turning up every day, scratching around for work.

Mr Naseeb returned to the base after three weeks.

Now consider the fact a lot of these drivers took out loans to buy their vehicles.

Now slap in the fact that there is no business, and they are left with a massive burden on their shoulders.

Now throw in the need for them to put food on their table, mouths to feed, rent or mortgage to pay, and medical costs and you are left with an unpleasant scenario.

The Mulomulo, Nadi man said most of their customers were farmers coming from the interiors such as Nanoko, Natawa, Nagado, however, those farmers were no longer selling their produce at the market.

A little more than 21km away, in Lautoka, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Grog Masters distributed grocery packs to at least 200 families in Lautoka during the lockdown phase.

Its president, Amol Kumar said it was important to fight this battle together and struggling families should not be abandoned at this time.

Now, by yesterday morning, Government had paid out $4.3 million through the $90 assistance program to more than 48,000 households.

A statement from the Department of Information said 36,000 households received assistance in the Nadi and Lautoka containment zones while 12,000 households were assisted in Lami, Suva, Nasinu and Nausori.

Acting permanent secretary for the Ministry of Economy, Shiri Gounder said the assistance was $90 per household and only for affected families, “thus only one individual from each affected household should apply”.

There are far too many people suffering right now.

They need us all to unite for the greater good.

They need us all to adhere to physical distancing and to COVID-safety tips.

In such a period of great uncertainty, fear and insecurity, the media, again, has to go on the front foot, and do what it is expected to do –disseminate information that will allow people to make well informed decisions daily.

From the perspective of the media, we will fall back on credible sources by the hour in such a period of uncertainty fuelled by rumours and “breaking news” on various platforms.

In such moments of great fear and panic, we realise there is value for credible information.

This matters!

Let’s be part of the fight Fiji.

Together!

Please!

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