15 Mar 2016

Fiji Opposition says Parliament must meet over Winston

7:19 pm on 15 March 2016

Fiji's Parliament must meet without delay to discuss the crisis caused by Cyclone Winston, the opposition says.

Petrol station near Ba on Fiji's Viti Levu mainland after Cyclone Winston

Petrol station near Ba on Fiji's Viti Levu mainland after Cyclone Winston Photo: Alex Perrottet/RNZ

In a statement Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said the opposition had complied with the constitution in its request for Parliament to meet, which was delivered to the President on 3 March.

She said the President Jioji Konrote must act and he had no discretion in the matter.

Ro Teimumu said the government must report to the people the extent of the damage caused by the cyclone and how much Fiji would need to raise to pay for rebuilding.

She said the donor nations were also entitled to be told about the government's plans for managing the crisis and the large flow of aid.

She said it was crucial that accountability and transparency were maintained.

Road damage extensive

The cost of repairing Fiji's roads after Cyclone Winston has been estimated at US$64 million.

The Fiji Roads Authority said 2,000 kilometres, more than a quarter of the road network, had to be cleared of fallen trees and debris after the Category Five storm hit.

Engineers are still assessing roads for landslides and dropouts including 50 kilometres of coastal roads on some of the badly hit islands like Koro and Vanua Balavu.

Restoring these roads could cost about US$19 million while repairs to jetties, bridges and crossings is estimated at US$38 million.

The Authority said it only took two weeks to clear access to villages but many roads were still only suitable for four-wheel-drives. and some roads needed long detours.

It said all of Fiji's jetties were restored to some form of access within ten days of the cyclone.

When Winston struck last month, Fiji was in the middle of a major ten-year upgrade to its road network, which was due to cost the country about US$300 million this financial year.