Many people in the big crowds which packed Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s opening consultations in the West went home happy yesterday.
They were pleased that they got a positive response from Mr Bainimarama to some of their most pressing issues in the Sigatoka and Nadi consultations.
These include land, leases, roads and the sugar industry.
Representatives of 55 families in Olosara, Sigatoka, heard Mr Bainimarama instruct iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) officials to fast-track the provisions for lease.
Mr Gopal, 58, who attended the consultation at the Sai Centre, in Sigatoka, said: “I have been living here for the last 18 years. From 2007 we have been unsure about the future.”
He said the family was wondering when they would get their leases so that they could access development opportunities like, better roads.
“Upon consulting the PM he has said to fast-track the process. I am so happy for his call. Since my ancestors who arrived during the Girmit days we have been toiling the land,” Mr Gopal said.
Sherin Lata Karan, 46, who has been on the land for the last 16 years said: “We will be happy when we have acquired this piece of land because there is no lease yet.”
She said they were happy with the Prime Minister’s assurance.
Shakila Devi, 55, a garment worker said: “I have been staying on this land for the last 20 years. We are very happy for the assurance given by the PM.”
“We require proper lease,” Ms Devi said.
Rusiate Waqa, of Navoci, Nadi said: “I thank the PM for thinking about us and resolving our concerns about the lost tribes of Nadi. Since the days of the Ratu Mara government no government has ever come close to resolving this issue for us.”
Som Padayachi, of Nadi said: “This has been one of the good governments Fiji has ever seen. The PM has assured to fix our drainage issues in Navakai. On the spot he got his official to check on it.”
Nawaicoba and Yako advisory councillor Kuar Singh thanked the Government and TLTB, on behalf of the people, for approving some of the land leases.
“I would like to thank the Government and TLTB for assisting in the renewing of land leases. Some are still pending but we know they will be resolved soon,” Mr Singh said.
TLTB concerns on squatters
TLTB general manager Tevita Kuruvakadua said the finalisation of informal sector programmes was part of a Government plan.
“When we talk about informal settlement, we are referring to squatter settlements. These squatters are part of a long-pending issue from previous governments which were reluctant to take them head on,” he said.
“These squatters are there because of their own doing. They do not follow proper procedures by making informal arrangements. They go and present a isevusevu to the landowners without going through the formal process that iTaukei Land Trust Board has administered.
“Now there is a lot of insecurity among squatters. Some have built good houses without any formal documents. They are given one year tenancy piece of paper to keep them on the land until such time when the landowners want them out of the land. Most of the squatter areas have good houses.”
“TLTB has its own mandate which staff have to adhere to. We will work with Government through the Ministry of Local Government and other stakeholders.”