Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On
Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Project Worth Supporting
I was having a few bowls of yaqona with friends at my favourite watering hole and the conversation went to tourism. We usually talk about everything and anything.
Someone said that a new attraction was happening at Drauniivi village in Rakiraki in Ra Province. It was about dolphins. He said he read about it in government's publication the New Dawn. Government is giving its full support to this very humble business venture that the villagers are starting out. One of the men sitting there was from the village and we asked him to tell us about the project. He said that he had heard about the dolphins many years ago when he was just a toddler. He said that he used to hear his grandfather talk about a sandy lagoon which is some 10 to 15 minutes by boat from the main land. It’s called Nukurauvula or White sandy beach. History handed down by word of mouth says that the old people used to see two dolphins there when they went out fishing. As time went on they grew in numbers and it has become the habitat for a lot of dolphin. The venture, if it goes well, will benefit the people of the vanua of Drauniivi. There would be about 700 to 800 people in the village. This number could be incorrect, but they are big enough to have a secondary and primary school.
Many of the villagers work at Fiji Water but the Dolphin Watching venture will benefit them also. They plan to have proper toilets and bathrooms and better facilities for their kids. With education being stressed, many families are looking forward to the proceeds of the venture to assist with school fees, uniforms, school books and other school responsibilities. The gentleman said that the committee was made up of villagers who had left their jobs and had come back to live on the land. He said that though they may not have a high education, they had the heart to make the project a success. One thing they were happy about was there will be no middle man in the project. They are there for the people and will not be deterred by others saying that they can’t do business. But life is hard with inflation and the cost of transport and goods going up. They have to look at the resources they have to earn money.
I was speaking to a political scientist the other day and he said economics works the same way universally. People who have a lot of resources usually have no capital. And people who have a lot of capital usually have fewer resources. The people of Drauniivi have a lot of resources but they have very little capital. They are grateful to Fiji Water for the things that have been given to them. One of the things that the old timer said was he wanted to have a toilet that was inside the house and flushed. Many of us take our toilets for granted but this guy said with a glint in his eye, “Tau, ke na qai rawa vinaka na sasaga ni sara babale, keimami sa na bau kalougata.” (Tau, if the Dolphin Watching Project goes well the people will benefit.) Babale is dolphin in Fijian.
One way for the project to survive is for government to step in and conduct workshops. To educate the people on how to manage projects. They can be taught to manage people because they will have a lot of their own people working for them. We think that we can manage people but when it comes to business it is a different story. Yes, this is one project I would love to see survive so that the people of Drauniivi can be an example to others who have a lot of resources but no capital.
Having said that, Fiji has a lot of resources but we lack capital. Not many land owners will be inspired to use their resources because they have no money to get things off the ground. In the past, unscrupulous business people and weak politicians could have used poor land owners and benefited and disappeared, leaving the poor resource owner with nothing and a bill to pay someone.
Fiji has a lot of resources which can be a great benefit to the land owner if people with capital were not so greedy. I have heard some people say that the person with capital should have the bigger share and I ask what is the value of the resource, may it be land qoliqoli, timber, mineral, beach front, island, you name it.
But today the people of Drauniivi will be beneficiaries of their own resources and one way to make the project work is for them to work it themselves.
And with the mighty Fiji Water right next door to them, who can stop them.