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Land Of Joy

Land Of Joy
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum with Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya and residents of Omkar settlement during the issuance of registered land leases on September 13, 2017.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.
September 14
13:16 2017

Ravendra Lal and his wife had waited for 40 years to lease the State land they were squatting on.

Last night Mr Lal held the documents that have now made their dream a reality.

But she was not beside him.

“My wife passed away just this year – she was waiting for the land too,” Mr Lal said.

As Mr Lal joined his three sons and two daughters-in-law to celebrate, there were tears in his eyes. They were tears of joy.

They were among 63 families in Omkar Road, Narere between Suva and Nausori, who received the documents that ended their squatter status from the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. They gave Mr Sayed-Khaiyum three cheers in a rousing welcome led by community leader and retired Republic of Fiji Military Forces officer, Major Samuela Tupou, 61.

He has lived in the community since he was 15-years-old.

He said: “I have lived here since the early 70s and during that time, many governments had made promises to us that turned out to be false.

“All those governments, during their campaigns and visits, promised to allot land for us and right up to last year we realised we had been given false promises.

“Then last year, when we formed a team and approached Minister (Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Infrastructure and  Transport Parveen) Bala, we were afraid that this was going to be another false promise until tonight.

“This is a life-long investment and we are now proud to say that we are secure and we have land: we have a home. This is the biggest guarantee they have given us after nearly 40-50 years of nothing.”

He said the FijiFirst Government had made the entire community happy by ensuring that even ordinary Fijians had a secure future.

Another resident, Famiza Khana said she would take Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s advice and use the land to build a brighter future for her young family.

“We are very happy – we will hold onto the land because we have small kids,” she said.

“People have been staying in broken houses, now we can build a new house.”

Ms Khana’s neighbour, Suman Lata believes the new leases will provide her community with opportunities to save money and maintain a lifestyle of sustainability.

“Now we can even plant our own plants and save money from our block,” she said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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