NATION

High Commissioner: Commission Not Aware Of Claimed Exploitation

The Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji says he is not aware of the exploi­tation students claimed they faced at the hands of local landlords. John Patteson Oti acknowledged that
19 Feb 2018 11:00
High Commissioner: Commission Not Aware Of Claimed Exploitation
The condition at one of the residences where the Solomon Islands students stay.

The Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji says he is not aware of the exploi­tation students claimed they faced at the hands of local landlords.

John Patteson Oti acknowledged that many University of the South Pacific students from the Solomon Islands were living in overcrowded conditions.

But Mr Oti said the house in which students claimed more than 70 people were living was intended for temporary accommodation only.

“Strictly speaking, the accommo­dation, as reported in yesterday’s paper, was not meant to perma­nently house the number of stu­dents mentioned,” he said.

“The property is booked by the of­fice as a transit for students upon arrival in Suva, and while they individually secure permanent ac­commodation/residence in Suva for the year while at USP.”

A Fiji Sun investigation exposed the poor quality accommodation provided to Solomon students by local landlords in exchange for ex­orbitant rents.

The story was uploaded on Face­book and has since been shared 109 times, with more than 720 reac­tions including 30 comments.

Many former and current stu­dents came forward to tell their stories in the comments sections.

Simon Abana, a former USP jour­nalism student, commented: “I was once a victim during my days in uni (university)… so sad.”

Solomon Island Students Associa­tion president Lawrence Ina said race could be a factor in the way they were being treated.

Pictures showed students squeezed inside overcrowded rooms sleeping on bunk beds and toilets in filthy conditions.

Students claim overcrowding small rooms with people is a com­mon practice for landlords.

They say the landlords put stu­dents in individual rooms to earn more than what renting out a whole house would bring them.

In some cases, it was discovered that students were being charged as much as $300 per month each for single rooms in which as many as 12 people lived.

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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