Poultry farm saga – Residents up in arms over claims of foul smell

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Harrish Kumar Singh (left) and John Fong. Picture: FIJI TIMES ONLINE

Wainadoi residents are up in arms over claims that the foul smell produced by poultry and egg producer Ram Sami and Sons (Fiji) Ltd at a nearby facility is forcing them to live as prisoners in their homes.

The residents claimed smoke and a repulsive stench emanating from the company’s laying farm and manure production facility was affecting people with respiratory illnesses and was literally making their lives a living hell.

Harish Kumar Singh, 74, a resident for more than 30 years, claimed most days residents were held captive in their houses because of the putrid smell.

“We will be relaxing in the sitting room and all of a sudden a really bad smell will fill our house early in the morning,” he claimed.

“If they aren’t burning it in the morning then they do so in the night – it’s a really filthy smell – at times we would want to enjoy the morning and night breeze or to just simply relax outside and do some work, but we can’t because of the horrible smell that is blown our way.

“We mostly stay indoors with our fans and air-conditioning turned on just to get rid of the smell in our house – that’s how we’ve been living.”

Mr Singh said the situation was even worse for those who had asthma.

“My daughter and son-in-law’s house is located just before us and they both have asthma.

“Once the smell hits their nose, it’s quite hard for them to breathe and they tend to get asthma attacks.

“So they have had to lock themselves in their house until the smell goes away.”

He said they have complained to the authorities to no avail.

“We complained last year and this year – once they started burning again – but so far nothing has been done.

“There was a time when all the residents complained at the same time and they did stop the burning.

“However, it didn’t take long before they continued with the burning of chicken waste again.

“Black soot particles also blow our way from the burning and they settle on our porch. “The main thing which they should have done before they began burning the chicken waste was consult us the residents, but they have never done anything of the sort.”

John Fong, a resident for the last 10 years, described the smell as “very pungent and irritating.”

“It was never like this before,” he said. “Some years ago they (Ram Sami) had told us that they were going to bring in a plant that was going to dry up the chicken waste because what we have heard is that they are also burning the feathers and everything together.”

He said residents were hoping a consultation would be organised with the Environment Ministry and Ram Sami and Sons (Fiji) Ltd.

“This way they can hear the concerns raised by the residents and the ministry can also conduct an air quality test.

“It’s sad to see residents lock themselves up on a nice bright sunny day because of the smell.”

Former Investment Fiji CEO Ravuni Uluilakeba, also a resident in the area, claimed the company was painting a different picture from what they advertised.

“At the end of the day whatever they are showing in ads saying it is the best of the best or something like that, but when you look at the way that they are doing it, it’s far from that – so where is the health element in that aspect,” he said.

“One way or another gimmick of marketing is being done, but the elements and issues of health need to be taken into consideration first. They are selling their products, but looking at the causes and whatnot it is being downplayed and hence for the asthmatic cases in the area is becoming very severe.”

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