NEWS

Leases Best Diwali Gift

Richard Philip has waited for 36 years. Yesterday, the 56-year-old’s dream came true when he received his 99-year land lease. It changed his status from squatter to tenant and gave
31 Oct 2015 12:25
Leases Best Diwali Gift
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Lautoka. Photo: DEPTFO News

Richard Philip has waited for 36 years.

Yesterday, the 56-year-old’s dream came true when he received his 99-year land lease.

It changed his status from squatter to tenant and gave him the security and peace of mind he had yearned for all these years.

He was one of the 40 squatters on State land at Field 40 in Lautoka who received their leases from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. The leases were the best Diwali gifts they could receive.

Mr Philip said he was happy to finally call the land he lived on his home.

“The issue was hanging over our heads ever since we came here 36 years ago, and in every election past governments would make the same promises but nothing happened,” he said.

“Today I am the happiest man to receive the approval notice through this Government. Now our voices are finally being heard ever since the Bainimarama Government came into power.”

Prem Lata, 59, expressed similar sentiments

“My husband and I have a joint tenancy and I have to say we are both very happy today,” she said.

“We can finally sleep easily knowing that we don’t have to worry about where we live and finally no more false promises, and lies from past Governments.”

Mr  Bainimarama said: “This is a very important day for a great many Fijians as my Government begins the process of securing the futures of the tens of thousands of people living in informal settlements throughout the country.

“Until now, you have been squatters occupying State land with no legal status and no security. None of the peace of mind other Fijians enjoy in having a sense of ownership, of belonging, to the land on which they live.

“But from today, all that starts to change. And I couldn’t be more delighted to be here in Field 40, Lautoka, to hand over the first of the ‘Approval Notices to Lease’ to those who have settled on a portion of State land in this area of the nation’s second biggest city.

The 40 approval notices are the first of 144 that will be eventually issued to the residents here.

Mr Bainimarama said they were planning to hand out another 18 notices within the next few weeks and the rest to follow.

“I understand the anxiety of those of you who are still waiting and apologise for any delay. But we need as a government to do this properly and fulfil the requirements of the law,” he said.

“Throughout this whole process, we have done all we can to ensure that none of your homes have to be relocated – that you can stay where you are. And we have also included your religious places of worship in our subdivision plans.

“I’m very happy to say that we have achieved all of this for the people of Field 40. But there are still a number of outstanding issues to be addressed for the whole of Fiji in the weeks and months ahead. And key stakeholders in the housing sector will be meeting to consider these issues and finalise our policies on the allocation of lots in squatter settlements around the country.”

He said this was the first of more than 50 other settlements where Government was committed to regularising occupancy.

“It fulfils a key promise I made to you before the 2014 election. That “FijiFirst will develop more State land for squatter development”. And that “all State land on which squatters have been living will be subdivided and squatters will be given 99 year leases”.

Feedback:  saloteq@fijisun.com.fj

 

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