27 Oct 2006

Fiji's prime minister blames poor maintenance for water crisis

7:49 am on 27 October 2006

Fiji's prime minister has blamed poor maintenance and neglect for the plight of more than 10% of the country's population who have been without piped water all this week.

Laisenia Qarase's comments on Fiji TV last night came after the minister for public utilities, Robin Irwin, refused to make any more statements on the water crisis after alleging he had been misquoted.

Mr Qarase said many of the water mains were ancient but they would not be bursting under high pressure if proper maintenance had been done.

Mr Qarase, who has been chairing the Pacific Forum leaders' summit in Nadi this week, said he will be addressing the issue when he returns to his office in Suva today.

A major health risk developed as the heavily populated Suva-Nausori corridor has been without water since Monday afternoon with new areas suffering cuts since last night.

Tens of thousands of angry residents whose lives have been severely disrupted have been venting their frustrations through the Fiji media.