The Ministry of Local Government has commended the Fiji National University (FNU) on taking a lead role in strengthening and building the capacity of municipal council planners in Fiji during the World Town Planning conference today held at Derrick Campus in Samabula this week.
Acting Director, Department of Town and Country Planning, Mohammed Ziar applauded the University for offering the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (four-year honours degree), to help increase the number of professional planners in Fiji.
“I would like to express my deepest thanks to FNU’s College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST) for producing planners who will be contributing towards the national growth and development,” said Ziar.
The Acting Director said training institutions played an important role as it assisted with skills and knowledge enhancement of the workforce, which in return contributed towards the country’s economic growth.
“A planner has to consider a lot of environmental issues before making a decision. In Fiji, there isn’t much interest to join this profession. In the Department of Town, Country planning, we have only seven qualified town country planners. This speaks volume about the need to build this profession as planners have to follow guidelines that are in line with the existing planning policies,” Ziar said.
“This initiative from FNU is whole-heartedly supported by the government. In the not so distant future these students will contribute immensely towards Fiji’s development,” he added.
The inaugural World Town Planning event facilitated by the College of Engineering, Science and Technology provided a platform for students to display research projects and discuss these with guests.
The students highlight planning issues pertinent in our region based on the theme “Sustainable Development, Climate Change Adaptation and Economic Development through the blue economy”.
Final year Bachelor of Civil Engineering Honors student, Francis John and his group recently compiled a project on designing infrastructure for water supply in the Namara district of Tailevu.
“Currently, the village does not have access to the freshwater supplied by the Water Authority of Fiji. The villagers depend on the rainwater and water cart from Nausori town for the water supply,” he said.
“I am glad the University provided this opportunity for us to present our work in front of our colleagues, lecturers, department heads and key industry stakeholders. Right now, we are looking towards accreditation in getting our work published. If this happens, this will be a great opportunity for my group,” said John.
FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Mohini Singh said these final year student projects could be expanded into bigger projects with sponsorship from private organisations, the Government and embassies. Or the students can do more work on these projects and extend them via PhD studies.
“Outcomes of research projects are evidence-based, therefore more valid”, said the Acting VC.
“This event aims to inform the public about the importance of planning and the need for formal programs to plan national development, environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation. It creates awareness on the importance of incorporating issues of culture in planning for sustainable development of the region” Professor Singh added.
FNU College of Engineering, Science and Technology, School of Building and Civil Engineering Lecturer and event coordinator Yuyun Qomariyah said the conference was a huge success which was attended by representatives from sixty-five industries from various sectors.
Almost thirty students displayed their projects in groups.