We cannot blame outsiders, look at us first: PM

ambassadorPrime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says we simply cannot blame outsiders unless we are doing the right thing ourselves.

In so many instances, we are not, he adds.

This was a message he made to all Fijians. Mr Bainimarama is currently co-hosting the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.

He has once again directly addressed Fijians on the state of our beaches and roads, which are littered with rubbish.

He spoke at a side event organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) where he lashed out at the easy-going attitude of Fijians on littering.

“It is for other leaders to address this issue in relation to their own countries and the behavour of their own people.

But I’m not at all happy with the way so many Fijians are treating our own environment with contempt. I’m sorry, but there is no other word for it,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said while it would be easy to blame the bigger countries around the Pacific Rim, we needed to clean up our act too.

“In far too many parts of Fiji, the Fijian people are rubbishing their country in a way that they would never rubbish their own homes. Too many people think nothing of throwing their food wrappings out of the car or bus window.

“Too many people think nothing of dumping their own rubbish – whether it is an old mattress or a broken piece of furniture – by the side of the road,” he said yesterday.

Mr Bainimarama specifically mentioned areas along the Queens Road to drive home the point.

“So we have a situation in Fiji where large parts of the country are strewn with litter. Just take the Queens Road from Suva to Nadi and look at all the litter that has been left behind at Deuba or all along the Coral Coast.”

For a country which counts on tourism dollars, Mr Bainimarama said the littering would not be an attraction for any tourist.

He also mentioned that Fiji goes around the world advertising our pristine image, and yet we treat our precious surroundings in such a manner.

“Well guess what? So much of this litter, this rubbish, ends up in the sea. It is swept down storm water drains and creeks into our rivers and then makes its way into open waters.

“We have some of the best beaches in the world in Fiji. Yet because of our carelessness, our thoughtlessness, they are often strewn with plastic bags and bottles,” he said.

However, Mr Bainimarama also acknowledged those who did do their part to help preserve our environment.

“Fortunately, we have responsible citizens who take it upon themselves to occasionally clean it up.

“But the point I want to make is that we all have a responsibility to preserve our surroundings. And I want more people to take that responsibility in the interests of protecting our environment on land and at sea.”

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