Analysis: Correcting The Ills Of The Past, Giving Nausori Landowners Their Dues

Analysis: Correcting The Ills Of The Past, Giving Nausori Landowners Their Dues President of Qelesisisi Investment Company Timoci Taganekurukuru shows the area of the proposed airport extension at Nausori Airport on March 15, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar

It is a great step that the FijiFirst Government has decided that these landowning units need to be paid the fair amount.

If landowners of land surrounding the current Nausori International Airport site had been treated fairly decades ago, we would have our second international airport upgraded long ago.

The current Nausori International Air­port site was acquired during the Colonial Government days on January 1, 1951.

The lease issued was for 99 years at 66 pounds per annum with no right of reas­sessment. This meant that the landowners did not have the right to go back and ask to be paid market rate.

This is what many would say is daylight robbery.

It is most unfortunate that no Govern­ment had previously taken this matter on board. Since the Colonial Days, Govern­ments have come and gone and no one thought they should correct the injustice done to these landowners.

It is a great step that the FijiFirst Gov­ernment has decided that these landown­ing units need to be paid the fair amount.

Government is finding ways to compen­sate landowning units whose land were leased for Nausori International Airport.

Government will work on finalising a compensation which will be amenable to Fiji Airports Limited and to the landown­ing units.

The FijiFirst Government also wants to ensure the future generations of landown­ers also benefit from this as well.

Therefore, it is essential that instead of just a lump sum payment made initially followed by trifling payments over the years, the current negotiations to lease more land for extension take into account that reassessment of the market value be allowed every few years.

According to a forecast by Air New Zea­land and Fiji Airways, by 2023 at least eight Boeing 737 aircraft will land full load in Nausori.

The 737-800 which Fiji Airways uses to fly out of Nausori Airport to Sydney and Auckland does not run on full load be­cause of the length of the runway.

The current length of the runway is 1868 metres and 30 metres wide. The ideal length for 737 operations on full load ca­pacity is 2100 metres.

So this is why in all these years it has been flying, it does not take the full load for which it needs a longer runway.

While most air traffic to Fiji for tourism was largely for the Western Division, Gov­ernment was also mindful that a major proportion of the Fijian population live in the Nausori-Lami corridor, by some esti­mates 300,000 Fijians live in this area.

Some conniving lawyers have also played dirty with landowning units.

In fact, some had gone to the extent of giving false hopes to gullible landowners and exploited them.

One lawyer had demanded that $50mil­lion be paid upfront. No one will pay that sort of inflated astronomical amount.

Instead of being short-sighted and seek­ing an astronomical amount up front, the interests of future generation of landown­ers should also be taken into account.

We need to think about the future genera­tion. We need to look at the market rentals too and a market assessment of rental to be paid in the future.

The landowners are not being told what the benefits a full size international air­port brings to the entire community.

The total time needed for the upgrade of the Nausori International Airport is 70 weeks and would cost $47.85 million.

The extension will start only after nego­tiations with landowners conclude.






SuvaOnline.Com All Right Reserve Copyright