MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 4:00PM 28/06/13

1.?CLOSURE OF RAKIRAKI BRIDGE ON KINGS ROAD -?The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) is advising all members of the public that effective from?Sunday June 30, 2013, the??Rakiraki Bridge located on Kings Road??near Rakiraki Village will be closed to all traffic.

2.?CONSIDER PERSONS LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS -?Fijian President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has called for careful consideration of the experiences of persons living with HIV/AIDS while reviewing strategies to address the epidemic in the Pacific as outlined by the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Six.

3.??KAISE BAAT-RELOADED? TO PROMOTE FIJI HINDI -?More than two hundred (200) people got a chance to witness performances by non- Indian Fijians in Fiji Hindi last night during the ?Kaise Baat ? Reloaded non Indo-Fijian Articulations of Fiji Hindi ? Conversations and Performances? at USP last night.

4.?SOLAR ENERGY FOR WAIKUBUKUBU VILLAGE -?The people of Waikubukubu village, which lies in the interior of Tavua district, in the Ba province got connected for the first time to electricity as part of a solar energy initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.

5.?ZERO TOLERANCE INITIATIVE REAPING REWARDS -?The Zero Tolerance initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has been reaping rewards in communities where it has been implemented.

6.?STAKEHOLDERS URGED TO STREGTHEN PARTNERSHIP FOR THE BENEFIT OF FIJIANS -?Strengthening public and private partnership is crucial in steering education in Fiji to new dimensions, says Ministry of Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal.

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1.?CLOSURE OF RAKIRAKI BRIDGE ON KINGS ROAD

The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) is advising all members of the public that effective from?Sunday June 30, 2013, the??Rakiraki Bridge located on Kings Road??near Rakiraki Village will be closed to all traffic.

The public is advised that a new bridge construction will commence following the demolition of the old bridge.

It is expected that the new bridge construction will take between nine (9) to twelve (12) months to complete.

The Authority has arranged a diversion route for all traffic travelling via the Kings Road which is a detour from the Rakiraki Village going into Penang Mill access road to Rakiraki Town.

As the detour route is approached signages will be in place to guide the traffic via the new route. On the diversion route, a maximum speed limit of 50 KMPH applies.

However, on the Rakiraki FSC Mill bridge, all vehicles carrying a gross weight of 32 tonnages with an axel loading of 10 tonnages is permissible to access the bridge whilst not exceeding speed limit of 15km/hour.

The Authority will work with the contractors to ensure smooth flow of traffic via the diversion route.

The aerial map attached shows the diversion route for the Kings Road.

FRA advises all travelers to take precaution while driving via the diverted route.

Any inconvenience caused is regretted.

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2.?CONSIDER PERSONS LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

Fijian President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has called for careful consideration of the experiences of persons living with HIV/AIDS while reviewing strategies to address the epidemic in the Pacific as outlined by the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Six.

Ratu Epeli made the comments yesterday while launching the ?Treatment is My Life Now? report, compiled by the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund.

?I am confident that Governments in the Pacific region, when reviewing their respective strategies whilst addressing HIV and Aids in the context of MDG 6 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, will take into account the perspectives of those who have lived this life and who experienced the lows and the highs of treatment, as detailed in this report,? he said.

The Pacific Ambassador for HIV/AIDS also appealed to the region to continue supporting the United Nations ultimate goal of attaining the three zeros: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero aids-related deaths.

The publication chronicles the experiences of the antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment on people living with HIV in Pacific islands through a research involving 23 people in Fiji, 11 in Guam, two in Kiribati, five in Samoa and eight in Solomon Islands.

Ratu Epeli said the report emphasizes the importance of treatment including the many challenges faced by people living with HIV.

He said challenges such as the side-effects of HIV treatment and social hardships faced by people living with HIV when trying to access treatment, should now enable health organizations and policy makers in the region to reconsider their approach.

Ratu Epeli added that a more user-friendly and viable option must be introduced when providing life-dependent treatment.

The MDG Goal six sets the objective of ?Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases? which expires in 2015.

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3.??KAISE BAAT-RELOADED? TO PROMOTE FIJI HINDI

More than two hundred (200) people got a chance to witness performances by non- Indian Fijians in Fiji Hindi last night during the ?Kaise Baat ? Reloaded non Indo-Fijian Articulations of Fiji Hindi ? Conversations and Performances? at USP last night.

University of the South Pacific?s Research and Graduate Affairs associate dean, Dr Mohit Prasad said the two day event was organised to promote Fiji Hindi as it is a widely spoken contemporary language in the country.

Speaking at the event last night, acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji Hindi is very much linked to the experiences and identity of descendents of the Girmitiyas.

?The Girmitiyas and their descendents at one stage in Fiji comprised of 51 per cent of the population. If you look at it historically, it was a language that developed as a means of necessity and that necessity arose from the fact that there were people who came from different parts of India and they had to communicate. They were in a different environment altogether,? Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji Hindi has its uniqueness and it should not be shunned.

?Language has the ability of inclusion, it brings people together, you are able to share the jokes and you are able to relate to each other. Fiji Hindi is a means of communication and it helps to break down barriers as well as helping to understand each other,? he added.

Dr Prasad said the language is not only spoken by the descendants of the Girmitiyas in Fiji but also by the i-Taukei community.

?We started ?Kaise Baat? last year which was a huge success. As part of the event last year, we had presented academic papers on language, architecture, economy and movie-making in Fiji Hindi,? Dr Prasad said.

?We have taken it to a new level this year with performances in Fiji Hindi to show that it is a truly conversational and a living language.?

Dr Prasad also highlighted the need to sustain the language as a means of communication amongst Fijians.

?Fiji Hindi is a vibrant language and also a major part of who we are, our identity, hence the need to continue advocating its usage,? he stressed.

The program was also a tribute to late Jet Shri Krishna, a well-known traditional Indian folk singer. Most of his compositions were in Fiji Hindi.

The performers last night included traditional Hindi folk singer, Noa Seru, You and Me Talents? Chutney dancers and music, which is popular in Indo-Caribbean culture using a mix of calypso, Sonia- a cross-dressing Fijian dancer and Eddie Wilson, who is an i-Taukei singer of popular Hindi songs, with Fusion Masters.

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4.?SOLAR ENERGY FOR WAIKUBUKUBU VILLAGE

The people of Waikubukubu village, which lies in the interior of Tavua district, in the Ba province got connected for the first time to electricity as part of a solar energy initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.

The new energy source, means well for the 300 villagers who are part of the growing number of communities assisted through the same programme which enabled women to train as solar engineers at the Barefoot college in India.

Minister Dr Jiko Luveni said the solar electrification project is reflective of Government?s commitment and partnership with rural communities and the provision of new opportunities to improve livelihoods.

Yesterday, she joined villagers and government officials to commission the solar electrification project.

?I am delighted to be here to witness a great milestone achieved for this village. I congratulate the solar engineer for her hardwork that has led to successful installation of the solar lights,? Dr Luveni said.

?Last week similar success was witnessed in Nakorovou village in Bua and in the coming days eight other villages in Fiji will be solar electrified. We are grateful to the Barefoot College and UN Women for their partnership in making this project a success.?

Waikubukubu village headman?(turaga ni koro)?Inia Naicavacava said this achievement would be remembered by his people because this is the first time for the village to get electricity since its establishment 120 years ago.

?Since the time of our forefathers this village didn?t have any electricity we had continued to live in darkness, with the hope that someday we will have the lights. And today our prayers have been fulfilled, with the 57 houses being solar electrified,? Mr Naicavacava said.

?Each house has three bulb lights and one lantern light. The installation took three weeks and everyone in the village assisted the engineer to put up the panels on the roofs.?

Mr Naicavacava said the only light source to the villagers before were through kerosene lamps which was both difficult and costly.

?Before the only source of light was kerosene lamp and it was both difficult and expensive for us to go all the way to town to buy the kerosene but now the solar lights offers an environment friendly, affordable and brighter source of light in our homes,? he added.

Mr Naicavacava acknowledged Government?s assistance and highlighted that it would empower close to 80 school children in their studies.

?The solar lights will also provide a safe environment, particularly for women and girls. We can also charge mobile phones using the solar power,? Mr Naicavacava added.

Waikubukubu village solar engineer Lautaini Nabua said the installation of solar power had been made possible through the support of the solar committee.

?The solar committee has been very active in ensuring the installation and all the households have to pay five dollars a month for maintenance. There is also a good support from the men and the youths,? Ms Nabua said.

?This project is very important, it has proven that regardless of qualifications, a woman can achieve anything. I went up to only class eight and despite that I am proud to say that today I am a solar engineer and have the skills to solar electrify my village.

?I thank the government in particular Dr Luveni for her continued motivation and belief in women. ?Empowering us to acquire skills of solar electrification. We believe this is a new beginning for a much brighter future for the people of Waikubukubu.?

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5.?ZERO TOLERANCE INITIATIVE REAPING REWARDS

The Zero Tolerance initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has been reaping rewards in communities where it has been implemented.

Minister Dr Jiko Luveni said statistics provided by the Fiji Police Force has seen overwhelming response in the forty five(45) communities and villages that have been declared Zero Tolerance Violence Free.

Citing statistics and figures, Dr Luveni said not only has there been a decrease in domestic violence but there ?crime rate in these villages and communities have also decreased a lot.?

?This is the main purpose of the Zero Tolerance and Violence Free Community initiative that started last year,? she said.

She added that the programme also provided empowerment within homes and villages.

?There are gatekeepers (monitoring committee elected by the village) and this committee monitors the events in the villages. The committees include men, women and youths so there are a lot of ideas being thrown around and the result leads to better living and happy families,? Dr Luveni said.

?One of the main reason also that the committee is elected from the villages is to increase that sense of ownership and empower villagers into leading roles.

?That is the key component of this initiative. Youths, women and men are now able to speak their minds in meetings for the betterment of the village communities. It gives them a sense of ownership and empowers them to lead.?

The Ministry has targeted sixty (60) communities for 2013 with 45 already declared as violence free.

Meanwhile, Waikubukubu Village in Nadarivatu is the latest to have acquired commitment status.

?Villages and communities that have been declared are also provided with other awareness programmes, self ? help and income generating projects because it is all part of building a better Fiji for all,? Dr Luveni said.

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6.?STAKEHOLDERS URGED TO STREGTHEN PARTNERSHIP FOR THE BENEFIT OF FIJIANS

Strengthening public and private partnership is crucial in steering education in Fiji to new dimensions, says Ministry of Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal.

During the launch of the third ?Access to Quality Education Programme? stakeholders meeting this morning, Dr Lal emphasized to donor agencies and participants, the effectiveness of localising aid to benefit the Fiji situation.

?It is important that there is better understanding between the education sector and the donor agencies in order to mainstream and localize principles of aid effectiveness to benefit the Fiji situation,? he said.

?We believe that partnership is one of the crucial element that will steer education in Fiji to a new dimension.?

Dr Lal acknowledged the efforts of donor agencies in establishing operational frameworks that encompass stakeholders in eliminating duplication of efforts therefore making it cost effective.

?As key stakeholders we must take the leading role in reaffirming our commitment to improving the ability of children from poor communities, including those with disability, to access quality education,? Dr Lal said.

Access to Quality Education programme leader Dr Priscilla Puamau said their key priority is ensure that all children are able to attend school in a safe environment.

?Education has consistently been recognized as the cornerstone of development for any country or region, and one of the highest return development activities,? Mrs Puamau said.

AQEP programme will provide grants to improve school infrastructure and learning environments and education access and quality for the most disadvantaged and disabled primary schools in Fiji.

The organisation has assisted 28 per cent of urban schools, 18 per cent rural schools, 30 per cent remote schools and 24 percent to very remote areas.

The program is evident through $30million AusAid bilateral assistance to Fiji?s education sector programme from 2011-2016.

Collaborative efforts from various organizations and stakeholders are adamant in improving education access for children with disabilities and those from poor communities around Fiji.

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