A Threat By Landowners To Shut Down Savura Dam A Shot Out Of the Blue

Whatever the facts of this case are, landowners cannot threaten to take the law into their own hands. This issue is allegedly 52 years old. Why has it taken this long to resolve it?
06 May 2019 15:23
A Threat By Landowners To Shut Down Savura Dam A Shot Out Of the Blue
Former Prime Ministers of Fiji, L-R: Laisenia Qarase, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (top), Mahendra Chaudhry (bottom) and Sitiveni Rabuka


There was a time when roadblocks were common in Fiji as iTaukei landowners flexed their muscles to air their grievances.

No doubt, there were some questionable land deals and developments.  But not all fell into the same category.

The recurring lesson from all these cases was that you could not take the law into your own hands.

There were procedures and protocols to be followed in dealing with land disputes.

Sometimes these cases were complex and complicated. The perception among some groups of landowners was they were being deliberately delayed to suit a particular interest or political agenda.

Other times, the cases ended in court and they took many years to resolve like the Monasavu land row involving multiple landowning units.

After several quiet years on the land dispute front, the weekend action by a group of Colo-i-Suva landowners was a shot from the blue.

Twelve people were taken in for questioning by Police after they allegedly threatened to shut down the Savura Dam in Wailoku, Suva.

Yesterday, the landowners made it clear that this dispute had nothing to do with the Water Authority of Fiji dispute.

The dam is a vital source of water for WAF.

The landowners claimed their grievance dated back to 1967. Many of their elders who had initiated their claim had died, they claimed.

They alleged that the then Government had not made good its promise of paying more than $600,000 compensation for the 160 acres it acquired for the dam.

The question is why now? Why has it taken all this time to bring it out into the open?

Why didn’t they raise it when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was Prime Minister of the Alliance Government from 1972 to 1987?

When Sitiveni Rabuka grabbed power in two military coups in 1987 championing iTaukei political supremacy and later became Prime Minister why didn’t the landowners approach him because of his pro-iTaukei position. They would have received a favourable response.

When Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji Labour Party leader, became PM in 1999 and Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewe ni Vanua (SDL) leader Laisenia Qarase was PM from 2001 to 2006, were they informed?

If all these leaders were told, what was their response?

The landowners are short on details and they must tell all and become transparent if they are going to be taken seriously.

They are only referring to their alleged dealings recently with the Ministry of Lands and the iTaukei Land Trust Board. According to them the ministry said the compensation money had been paid out. But they claimed that the TLTB records showed no evidence of that happening.

The Ministry of Lands, the TLTB and WAF should respond as soon as it is possible to clear the air on what appears to be a long-standing issue.

But it does not justify the alleged action of landowners to threaten to take the law into their own hands.

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