III. EXISTING INSTITUTIONS AND MEASURES FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING FOR SUVA CITY
E. National government agencies that have an impact on the Suva environment
The Ministry of Public Works, Infrastructure and Transport is divided into three departments which are at least responsible for one Act related to the environment of Suva. They include PWD, the Marine Department and the Road Transport Department. In addition, the Ports Authority of Fiji, which administers the Port of Suva, is also affiliated to the Ministry.
PWD provides advice and service to government departments for capital and recurrent works on buildings and engineering construction. The Water and Sewerage Section of PWD is responsible for the provision of safe and potable water for Suva. It monitors the water quality and addresses other environmental considerations in the provision of water supplies, such as the management of water catchments. Regarding sewerage, PWD is responsible for the provision of adequate and cost-effective trunk and reticulation systems and treatment facilities for Suva. It also monitors and manages effluent disposal in order to minimize potential environmental and public health problems. Additional responsibilities include ensuring that the disposal of household and industrial waste is handled in an appropriate manner, "giving due weight to cost and environmental considerations" (Public Works Department, 1994).
PWD and SCC share jurisdiction over the sewer system. The unacceptably high values of faecal coliform counts in the water of Suva harbour, found by the University of the South Pacific's Institute of Applied Sciences, indicate the existence of a serious pollution problem related to sewerage disposal that needs to rectified by those authorities. The problem is compounded by a growing squatter problem in Suva. A survey conducted in 1996 found that 23 per cent of urban households used pit toilets (Ahlberg, 1996).
Trace metal studies by the university showed a less serious situation with respect to industrial pollution. The fact that cadmium was detected in water samples at several sites indicated that industrial pollution problems existed to some degree. The findings serve as a warning that, with the push to expand the local industrial base, greater controls on effluent and spillage must be exerted to prevent toxic metals from entering and being accumulated in the food chain. Suva's harbour continues to be used as a food source by a significant number of people.
The Department of Road Transport fulfils the traditional functions of registering vehicles that are considered roadworthy and issuing driving licenses. The Road Transport Control Board is responsible for checking pollution (noise and emission) from vehicles. Health inspectors are charged with lodging complaints with the Road Transport Control Board concerning vehicles with excessive emissions. However, vehicle emissions represent perhaps the most blatant area of environmental enforcement non-compliance. The existing regulatory system does not work and overt vehicle emissions, particularly from public transport vehicles, are a chronic and growing environmental urban environmental problem. Fortunately, prevailing trade wind flows go some way to providing relief to the residents of Suva. The private sector-operated public transport industry appears to have been effective in lobbying against effective enforcement of the existing emission control laws. It was only recently that one of the major oil companies decided to voluntarily introduce lead-free petrol.
The activities of the three entities impinge on air pollution caused by automobile emissions. The Department of Road Transport is responsible for the number and road worthiness of vehicles in use. PWD is responsible for the condition of roads. The traffic systems and traffic flows are the responsibility of the SCC City Planning Division. Greater coordination between the three entities is required if the serious problem of vehicle emissions is to be adequately addressed.
The Department of Road Transport was recently equipped with nine smoke analysers which are specifically designed for checking vehicles using diesel fuel. They are operated by inserting sensors in the mufflers and taking readings. Thus there is now an objective basis for the rejection of license applications for vehicles that fail to meet minimum polluting standards, and for ordering defective vehicles off the road. However, strong political will and bureaucratic commitment is required in enforcing these standards.
The Ports Authority, apart from providing and maintaining adequate and efficient port services for ships, as well as the coordination of activities within ports, is responsible for policing acts of pollution by shipping within the Port of Suva and other ports under its jurisdiction.