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Bala Clarifies Formalisation Of Informal Settlements

Bala Clarifies Formalisation Of Informal Settlements
From left: Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu, Minister for Local Government Parveen Bala and Government MP, Mataiasi Akaoula outside Parliament on May 18, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar
May 19
12:29 2018

Minister for Local Government Parveen Bala expressed his frus­tration over SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula in Parliament yesterday.

This comes after Mr Nawaikula delivered his end of the week statements on the for­malisation of informal settlements in Fiji,

He claimed that he had brought a spotlight of justice on the housing crisis that was spreading insecurity among informal set­tlements all over Fiji.

Mr Nawaikula claimed that an Indo-Fijian individual was residing at the Jittu Estate, Suva and had secured the land through the assistance of the Methodist Church of Fiji.

He alleged that the church entered into an agreement with the Fijian Government to subdivide the land, however the land was given to the Peoples Community Network (PCN).

He further alleged that some residents of the said estate (phase two) had their homes ransacked and all belongings confiscated.

He further claimed that Lagilagi Housing was not the affordable housing scheme it was meant to be.

Mr Bala responded saying that it was a known fact that Mr Nawaikula had a habit of misleading the House.

“I am going to all these informal settle­ments and I have been told by the squatters that he has been influencing landowners not to lease to Government for the develop­ment of the squatter settlements,” Mr Bala said.

“This is a fact and now he wants to come and tell the whole of Fiji that he is so con­cerned about the squatters.

“Who created the squatters in Fiji? It’s him.

“He is the culprit creating squatters in this country.”

Mr Nawaikula, however raised a Point of Order for Mr Bala to withdraw his state­ment.

“I accept arguments on issues, but when it becomes personal I cannot take it, can you please ask the Honourable Minister to with­draw that I am not the culprit, talk on the issue,” Mr Nawaikula said.

Speaker of the House Jiko Luveni agreed and asked Mr Bala to withdraw his state­ment.

Mr Bala responded that he withdrew the word ‘culprit’, but continued saying that Mr Nawaikula was part of the iTaukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB) at that time when the leases were not renewed.

Mr Bala said the plan of action to formal­ise the informal settlements in Fiji urban areas was under the National Housing Policy through a Cabinet decision in March 2011.

He said the National Housing Policy pro­vided a clear direction for the Government to shift away from what was the peaceful ap­proach to affordable and decent shelter for all Fijians.

He said for the Lagilagi Settlement, Mr Nawaikula forgot to reveal that the trustee was former SODELPA candidate Samuela Saumatua.

He said the Lagilagi Housing project was a Government-funded housing development in partnership with PCN, to provide secu­rity for affordable and decent homes for squatters.

Meanwhile, Mr Bala revealed that; Lagi­lagi Housing Project phase one which con­sisted of 77 housing units, was completed in November 2015, costing $5.7 million and were occupied.

He said phase two has another 77 units, currently under construction costing $6m.

Forty housing units out of this were com­pleted in March this year and the remaining 37 units were 75 per cent completed.

Edited by Percy Kean

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