Sunday, April 02, 2006
Labasa River the uciwai of Labasa
Have a good look at this picture, and what do you think? It's so beautiful but to me it looks so depressing because I know what it used to be like. These days it needs so much attention to look after this great resource the Labasa river and I wonder what the Labasa Council is doing to use this resource to its best advantage.
The picture of the Labasa River brings back memories of my upbringing in my young days We lived close to where the photo was taken. There was an abundance of food from the river and the land and many coconut trees were standing there. The river is tidal so salty and the tides go very far up the river past Korowiri to Vunimoli village. Mangroves beside the river provided plenty of crabs and prawns. The name of one place where we used to go was Bouma, close to the Labasa Hospital.
On the Nasea side of the river was St Mary's school and hostel and Nacula village where our house was. There were fruit trees such as kavika (kind of white apple), dawa (fruit with jelly like flesh) oranges, pawpaw, mangoes, breadfruit, yams, vadra, suluka for smoking. We picked up crabs such as kuka which are small crabs in the summer rainy season. We used to eat sugar-cane but it was different from the crops that were grown by the Colonial Sugar Refinery. It was a bigger kind of cane.
The Labasa River starts as several streams in the hills in the centre of Vanua Levu, Ului Batini and Ului Valili. and these join up to make the Labasa River that reaches the sea where there are many mangroves.
The fish we caught in the Labasa River were for our everyday needs, not for selling in any market. The women and small children used nets, and the men and older boys went down to the mouth of the river to catch larger fish. Then later on the many fishermen started selling fish to people of Labasa. I still remember the senior Douglas Simmons in Namara selling fish.
There used to be only one bridge over the Labasa River for the sugar train. Today the main bridge links the shopping area to the development area of the hospital, Macuata House, Namuka House and Ro Qomate House.