Letters To The Editor, March 26, 2019

If Bulitavu’s statement was absolutely accurate, how come then, did these three previous governments not transfer the land to Yavusa Nasuva in that 34-year period? What stopped them?
26 Mar 2019 11:33
Letters To The Editor, March 26, 2019

Land Buyback
Timoci Gaunavinaka, Waila, Nausori

Like Ro Filipe Tuisawau before him, Mosese Bulitavu stated that previous governments did all the hard work in buying back the land for the Yavusa Nasuva and also for assisting in the raising of the funds for landowners. He claims that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama just approved the conversion after all the hard work was done and tried to claim the credit.

The Alliance, SVT and SDL governments governed Fiji for more than 34 years. If Bulitavu’s statement was absolutely accurate, how come then, did these three previous governments not transfer the land to Yavusa Nasuva in that 34-year period? What stopped them?


1. Although the land was bought back for just $317,900 for the sole purpose to be returned to the landowners after they reimbursed Government with their money, the Rabuka government in 1989 demanded that the Yavusa Nasuva landowners pay Government $1 million for the return of their land.

2. SDL, when introducing their Indigenous Claims Tribunal (ICT) Bill, followed exactly in the same path of SVT. ICT designer the late Qoriniasi Bale stated that all the land bought back under the Land Buy Back scheme will be sold to landowners at “Open Market Value”. This means that each of the 26 landowning Yavusa listed under the Land Buy Back scheme will need to pay back millions of dollars to Government at “Open Market prices”.

3. No landowning Yavusa in the list of 26 has such amount of money to pay Government, so no transfer can ever be done. We can all recall that in the “Bose ko Viti” (annual Methodist Church Conferences), it took the whole 14 provinces of Fiji to collect a million dollars. How then can the SVT, SDL and now SODELPA expect a single Yavusa to raise a million dollars? This was the reason the land could not be returned to their original landowners as initially planned and promised.

4. Mr Bainimarama and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum investigated and found out about this million-dollar demand set by SVT and SDL governments and ordered that the landowners purchase their land back for the exact amount the land was bought back for ($317,900). This allowed the land to be returned to the Yavusa Nasuva and three other Yavusa.

It also gave genuine hope for the rest of the 26 Yavusa that they will actually get their land back.
Interestingly during Alliance, SVT and SDL era, many iTaukei landowners were permanently losing their Qoliqoli rights due to various developments around Fiji.

Instead of compensating them at “Open Market Value” for the permanent loss of their fishing rights demarcated to them and all their future generations under the Native Land and Fisheries Act, the Rabuka Government paid them “peanut” prices.

The Yavusa Qalivakabau and Yavusa Lovoni-i-wai were compensated at the rate of $12.29c per acre for the permanent loss of their Qoliqoli comprising of 1,500 acres that was reclaimed by PAFCO at Levuka in January 1990. (Arbitration File number: FR 2/90). There were many similar cases all falling far below $1,000 per acre. Surprisingly, this was around the same period the Rabuka government was demanding a million dollars from the Yavusa Nasuva.

So, the fact of the matter which Bulitavu and SODELPA tried to hide today is that both the SVT and the SDL governments ensured that the landowners lose big time on both sides of the equation regarding land buy back and loss of qoliqoli rights compensation.

If it is true that “Action speaks louder than words”, then the SVT and SDL governments were actually deleting or weakening many fundamental rights of our Kawa iTaukei while loudly preaching that they embrace and protect it.

This also proves that Rabuka’s proposed Land Plan of 2006 to convert all iTaukei land to Crown was nothing new. The million-dollar price tag he gave the Yavusa Nasuva ensured that the land will remain the property of the state and never returned to its original landowners.
Bulitavu then turned to character assassination by posting a photo of me and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, who I attended Marist Brothers High School with (which has gone viral on social media). There were many photos of me and other FijiFirst ministers available on the same page, but he chose Mr Sayed-Khaiyum because he is the man SODELPA has convinced many iTaukei to hate.

Bulitavu hopes that his cheap and deceitful action will convince our iTaukei people to see me as a pro-Muslim and evil man and therefore blind them from seeing the facts I reveal about SVT, SDL and SODELPA’s cunning plans against our own iTaukei people in regard to Land Buy Back.
But the truth will always prevail.

First aid kit
Simon Hazelman, Savusavu

The provision and management of first aid kits in the workplace in Fiji is a real problem.
As we all know a first aid kit is a collection of basic emergency supplies and equipment used to administer immediate medical treatment.
As long and as far back as I can remember first aid kits in our workplaces are always empty!
The very day it is replenished, is the very day it is diminished!
This occupational health and safety (OHS) requirement has become more of a liability than a necessity!
Only in Fiji!

Bus service
Tomasi Boginiso, Nasinu

Bus services for Nepani, Nasinu, break down and Nepani residents are very disappointed.
Having an appointment yesterday at 11am I decided to catch the 9am bus, but it broke down even before leaving Nepani. So, I had to catch the 10am bus.
Upon returning I sat just behind the driver and the sound of the engine was unbearable, the heat from the engine could be felt on the floor and the driver was struggling to change gears and trying his best to get the bus moving.
The buses are so dirty.
I felt sorry for the drivers who might not able to speak up for fear of losing their job.

Koro ice plant
Sukha Singh, Labasa

I refer to your $1.2 million ice plant on Koro Island.
I would like to know why it will cost $1.2 million and why will it take three years to set up.
Maybe a good-sized power house also has to built to give 24-hour electricity supply for the ice plant.
I think in the long run Koro Islanders are better off without an ice plant. Right now, you catch enough fish for your daily needs. With the ice plant you may start over fishing and then you may have to go very far from your Island to catch fish.

Lamb chops
Shariff Shah, Savusavu

A whooping $21.50/kg for lamb chops in Savusavu. Wow.
Slowly, but surely the exemption removed on truckloads is taking its toll.
We in the North are paying double to that we paid per ton pre-2018.
So much so for the NZ standard of roads that FRA is trying to achieve.
Think outside your high office please before it’s too late.

Street light crossing
Rishant Nickil Prasad, Vuci Road, Nausori

Street lights at night are a compulsory need of every pedestrian and motorists.
Even some places in the Suva town area do not have street lights that could ensure the safety of people using the road.

A most important area where street lights are necessary is on zebra crossings.
While drivers are on the road, they have that scary feeling whether suddenly a pedestrian will pop up on the zebra crossing, which is not visible at night.

In some places the crossing is even invisible because the colour that has faded away from the zebra crossing white lines.
Motorists can also take up responsibility to be under the speed limit to prevent any sort of accidents or injuries that can take place at night and pedestrians have to be aware that when they cross the road is clear.

Meter Process
Dewan Chand, Suva

I write this open letter to the Minister for Infrastructure, Jone Usamate, to express my frustration with the Water Authority of Fiji’s water meter application processing system.
It takes so long to process applications in this age of technology.
The FijiFirst Government has always stressed the need for efficient and quick delivery of service.

I am afraid that this is not happening in case of water meter applications.
The first visit means collection of the form from the office and filling in all the details and providing all the relevant details such as title, type of lease, ownership evidence, birth certificates, death certificates.

Second visit means one has to collect a number, talk to the personnel at the service desk and if the form is fully completed an appointment date is given for inspection and one has to lodge the application with a fee. On the appointed day the client is expected to be on site with a certified plumber to sort out the location of the water meter.

Once this is done the client is asked to wait for 15 working days before paying $345 deposit. Once again, the client is asked to wait for 15 working days before the meter is installed.
But this rarely happens.
So, more phone calls or more visits to the office!
Each visit adds to the cost of travelling and wasting time.
For pensioners this is very frustrating.
Could the minister please ask the officers in charge to expedite application processing?

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