NEWS

Gravel Extraction Concern

Navua River tour operator says his business and landowners affected by ‘illegal operation’   Concerns have been raised on the alleged illegal gravel extractions being undertaken in the upper Navua
29 Dec 2015 10:16
Gravel Extraction Concern
Tourists from Discover Fiji Tours taken up the Navua River as an excavator works on the alleged illegal gravel extractions. Photo: William Danford

Navua River tour operator says his business and landowners affected by ‘illegal operation’

 

Concerns have been raised on the alleged illegal gravel extractions being undertaken in the upper Navua River.

Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Tevita Boseiwaqa said they had started their investigations on the matter and had also alerted the Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs.

Mr Boseiwaqa said they had received reports that two Asian companies were extracting gravels at Nakavu Village in Namosi along the upper Navua River without proper licences.

Manager of Discover Fiji Tours William Rock Danford told the Fiji Sun yesterday that the “illegal” gravel extraction was seriously affecting business. This area is popular for adventure and eco-tourism.

Mr Danford, who runs a tourist river tour business in the area, said tourists had been forced to discontinue their itinerary for the day because the illegal operation was blocking the river.

“These two companies have gone to the extent of blocking the river and I have sent a text message in Chinese to them,” he said.

He said they had apologised for blocking the river.

Mr Danford said villagers who up the river also relied on it for travelling downstream and had every right to complain.

“Villagers living beside the river had also lost the use of their fishing grounds.”

Mr Danford however said while all gravel extractions had been stopped by the Ministry of Lands, the two foreign companies had continued to extract gravel at Nakavu Village.

He further said accidents were bound to happen on this site as boats at times had to manoeuvre under excavator booms when currents were strong. “This is very dangerous.”

He said Government departments that had issued licence or given approval should be held responsible if any accident happened to tourists or locals in this part of the river.

Mr Danford also told the Fiji Sun that the Ministry of Lands had told the companies the gravel extraction they were carrying out was illegal and had to stop.

“Now they have come back showing a license issued by TLTB (iTaukei Land Trust Board),” Mr Danford said.

When contacted yesterday the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs, Savenaca Kaunisela, said the licence for gravel extraction was only issued by the Lands Department.

“We will investigate the matter,” Mr Kaunisela said.

He said they should have checked their licence to see who had issued it.

Meanwhile Mr Boseiwaqa said he was not aware of receiving an application from the two companies for gravel extraction at Nakavu Village.

Fiji Sun’s attempts to get comments from the two companies yesterday were unsuccessful as their numbers were not listed. Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj



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