Locals raise concern over dust and noise nuisance

A huge truck travelling along the dusty road at Vakabalea in Navua. Picture: MELI LADDPETER

Residents living along Vakabalea Rd, Navua, have raised serious health and safety concerns about the dust and noise nuisance caused by trucks carting either soft stone or gravel along the thoroughfare on an almost daily basis.

The residents claimed children were getting sick, they could not move freely for exercise outside, sun out beddings and were forced to remain locked up most times inside their homes when the trucks were on the road.

Vakabalea resident Suliana Elizabeth said this was not the first time the issues were raised by residents living in the area.

She claimed concerns on the dust and the speeding 10-wheeler trucks were raised several times and that residents were not even spared in the weekends, or night when they retired to rest after a long day of work.

“Why are they being allowed to breach the peace in those neighbourhoods,” she said.

“No one seems to be concerned about the inconvenience these operations have on our lives.

“This has been happening for a while and the residents are not spared from dust clouds even in the weekend.

“We understand that gravel and soft stone is needed for development, but the residents are concerned that they are collateral damage to the authorities desire to develop other areas.”

Ms Elizabeth claimed residents had to call police last Wednesday night because of the dust infiltrating their homes as late as 10pm by heavy 10 wheeler-trucks that night.

She urged the relevant authorities to look into the issue because of the health and safety concerns of longtime residents who had invested in the area and could not easily uproot and leave.

“Residents are frustrated because authorities are dismissive.

“We were told they would water the road, but this never happened, and with the authorities saying there are three companies given licenses, we don’t know who is responsible or what is being carted, gravel or soft stone.

“When they give out licenses, the authorities should make sure the lives of residents are not inconvenienced.”

When asked last week, Infrastructure Minister Jone Usamate said he was not aware of the concerns being raised by the residents of Vakabalea Rd.

Mr Usamate said Government could not tar seal all the roads at once because over half of the roads in Fiji were gravel.

He added Government was doing its best to look into the concerns of all the people living along gravel roads.

When Mr Usamate’s response was conveyed to residents, they said their road — as well as the roads in all communities where gravel extraction was taking place — should be approached differently because the other roads did not have big trucks using them every day.

“You cannot compare,” resident Colin Michael said.

“They should be fair to us. The businesses are given priority here over the health and safety of ordinary people trying to make a living and living in a peaceful environment.

“We have farmers and businesses in this community. The least they could do is ensure there is minimal disturbance to the lives of people who live here before they give a license.”

Questions sent to the Fiji Roads Authority, Minister for Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy, Ministry of Lands and Minerals Resources remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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