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Father Barr Breaks Silence On Lagilagi Housing Project

He claims the housing project is still unfinished because funds were not released on time.
25 Jun 2019 12:13
Father Barr Breaks Silence On Lagilagi Housing Project
Father Kevin Barr on June 20, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

The Lagilagi Housing project is still unfinished because of the failure of the previous minister for housing to release the funds on time, says Father Kevin Barr of the People’s Community Network (PCN).

Father Barr was one the key people behind the Lagilagi Housing project. He has broken his silence regarding the saga surrounding the housing project, which would house squatters from Jittu Estate in Raiwaqa.

Father Barr claimed that the former Minister for Housing, Parveen Bala, was reluctant to release the funds for the Lagilagi Housing project. Government had allocated $12.7 million for the construction of the housing in Jittu. Father Barr said 40 flats remain unfinished as a result of the Housing Ministry not releasing the funds on time.

In response, Mr Bala told Fiji Sun that people were well aware that the minister was not responsible for handling funds.

Father Barr said: “As a result of the failure to finish the housing project, I had started to stress. In January 2017, I suffered a stroke and as a result I had to stay back in Sydney for four months.

“I was told by the doctors that it was stress that led to me having the stroke.”

Lagilagi Housing

Lagilagi Housing

Father Barr said when Samuela Saumatua resigned as the Minister for Housing, the portfolio was looked after by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

“Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was happy with the way work had continued and approved the construction of the Stage Two of the project, which was another 76 houses,” he said.

“There were no issues with funds being released as the constructors were filing in the paperwork at the given times and completing work on time. However, things changed when Mr Bala took over. The funds were not coming on time and as a result work was not happening.

“And because of the delay price of building materials went up and then soon the construction company withdrew and the project remains unfinished.”

Father Barr was unable to continue the work at PCN after the stroke in 2017. He said it was in 2019 when he discovered that some staff members of the PCN had allegedly taken money from people in exchange for flats. This money never made it to the PCN accounts.

He said staff members responsible were terminated and the matter reported to the Police. Meanwhile Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking at more than 300 complaints into the Lagilagi Housing Project.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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