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Fiji police have warned that any attempts to destabilise and cause instability will be investigated and dealt with, reports The Fiji Times.

The warning came from Acting Commissioner Police Rusiate Tudravu yesterday in the wake of two major fires in Ba and Raiwai at the weekend.

He claimed some Fijians were quick to use the two fires to incite violence and rally more support against the government, claiming they were linked.

He said people instigating movements of violence and instability from overseas or hiding behind “fake profiles” on social media were selfish and self-centred because any acts of violence would only lead to more suffering.

The fires destroyed the Central Arcade in Ba and Tappoos warehouse in Raiwai, Suva, on Sunday night.

Talebula Kate of The Fiji Times reports that the Ba blaze is a major loss to the affected businesses during these challenging times.

Museum, town hall undamaged
Minister of Local Government Premila Kumar said the National Fire Authority (NFA) fire-fighters were quite responsive and managed to save the museum and town hall.

“There has been no damage to these facilities. Despite the windy weather conditions, the quick and efficient effort by our NFA team is appreciated,” she said.

“The outstanding continuous work by our firefighters is commendable, as the impact of the fire could have been extremely detrimental.

“Unfortunately, the cause of the fire is still unknown at this stage and the cost of the damage is yet to be determined.

The Fiji Times 030821
Today’s Fiji Times front page reporting on the police warning over urban fires “speculation”. Image: Screenshot

“Out of the eight shops in the arcade, six shops had tenants and were occupied.

“The arcade accommodated a fish store, a saloon/billiard room, a second hand clothing store, an electrical appliance shop, and two restaurants.”

Eight market vendors were also housed at the arcade.

Handicraft vendors
“These vendors were situated at the SME Market at the arcade and were selling curios and handicraft for their livelihood,” the minister said.

“It is rather disturbing to note that all their stock was destroyed by the fire.

“The number of fires in the country is alarming and becoming a concern. As per the statistics from NFA, there have been 57 fire incidents from 1 January to 1 August 2021,” Kumar vsaid.

“Fifty five were residential fire incidents and two were commercial fires, including [Sunday]’s incident. Sadly, there have been four deaths in the residential fire incidents so far this year; three in Nadi and one at Tacirua.

“We would like to reiterate that we need to be responsible and keep our homes and commercial properties fire-safe at all times,” the minister said.

The Ba Central Arcade Building was a 17-year-old structure and was insured after a valuation of the properties carried out in 2020.

Nevertheless, the Ba Town Council has a loan of approximately F$1.6 million (NZ$1.1 million), which needs to be paid off.

The council has been directed to work on practicable strategies to pay off the exorbitant amount of loan considering the difficult times we are in right now.

Republished with permission.

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