Editorial comment | Development focus

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An aerial view of Labasa Town. Picture: FILE

The Northern Division is not supposed to be different from Viti Levu in terms of development. Yet it is! We share similar interests and we are as passionate as ever when it comes to things like rugby 7s for instance or the Fijian Drua or Fijiana Drua.

When Fiji won the Sevens World Series and the Olympic Games gold, people in the Northern Division were as overjoyed as the rest of the country.

They celebrated with enthusiasm and there was great pride and joy over the national team’s achievement.

They also cheer on the Drua in the Super Rugby Pacific competition and follow the Fijiana Drua’s exploits in the Australian Super W. Like most other parts of the country, sports has an important place in life for people around the country.

It’s a means to an end to some extent. That’s when one considers the joy victory brings to people. Maybe it has something to do with the daily grind, or the difficulties many people face or the belief probably that they have obstacles that can appear to be overwhelming for some.

It is true that life is a lot more laidback in Labasa and Savusavu or at any other place on Vanua Levu. There’s a special thing about Labasa and Savusavu that can’t really be ignored. You could pinpoint it down to friendliness maybe or the ever-ready enthusiastic greetings of the people.

You could tie this down to many factors. Whether it is something intimately linked to people from Vanua Levu, or whether it is linked to the fact that these are predominantly rural-based people is perhaps something to ponder on.

But clearly any look north policy must be supported for the sake of the people and subsequently the nation as a whole. Development is important. Change can be overpowering and intimidating to some. But change is inevitable.

It means opening up doors to opportunities for people to make a difference in their lives. It means putting a stop to rural-urban drift or the gradual drift from Vanua Levu to Viti Levu. It means levelling out the playing field and stimulating growth in terms of the domestic economy for people in the north.

All that will need firm commitments from the State and from the people who will be greatly impacted. For them it means a change in mindsets. It stands to reason than that infrastructure development is critical.

But more so is the need or the expectation that people of Vanua Levu must embrace this and come up with innovative ideas to change their lives.

How this translates to financial support or the opening up of small business initiatives is something to look at if this isn’t already happening. Clearly there are great opportunities for growth.

The upgrade on the Nabouwalu to Dreketi highway was a massive undertaking and opens up unprecedented opportunities.

It is now about how we utilise the opportunities and the support systems in place to help the people grow. Development is important. Development can shape our future!

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