NATION

Nata Clarifies Land Lies Issue to Lauan Council Delegates

With some Schedule A and Schedule B land returned to TLTB the iTaukei people now owned 91 per cent of land in Fiji - an increase of 4 percent.
01 Nov 2019 16:29
Nata Clarifies Land Lies Issue to Lauan Council Delegates
Delegates at the Lau Provincial Council meeting held at Studio 6 Apartments in Suva on October 31, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

Delegates at the Lau Provincial Council meeting yesterday were enlightened on the land lies that were being spread by some politicians.

The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) deputy general manager Solomoni Nata added clarity and assured delegates and the people of Fiji, especially to iTaukei landowners that their land was safe.

Prior to the 2014 and 2018 General Elections some politicians on their campaign trail in the Lau Group and other provinces created fear and told people about how iTaukei land was being sold.

“With some Schedule A and Schedule B land returned to TLTB the iTaukei people now owned 91 per cent of land in Fiji – an increase of 4 per cent,” Mr Nata said.

“Before we iTaukei owned 87 per cent of land.”

Mr Nata said the 2013 Constitution protected ownership of the iTaukei land: The ownership of all iTaukei land shall remain with the customary owners of that land and iTaukei land shall not be permanently alienated, whether by sale, grant, transfer or exchange, except to the State in accordance with Section 27.

He said all land where they had government developments were not leased.

“These lands had the verbal approval of landowners and were respected by both parties till today,” Mr Nata said.

“A reason land survey in Lau had not been completed is because of the boundaries dispute.”

He urged them to visit TLTB to clarify anything about their land.

Council accepts Lau Seascape Report

The Lau Seascape Report was passed during the meeting yesterday.

Turaga Na Roko Sau Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba thanked ouncil members for their support.

“I also thank our chiefs based in villages for looking after the sea, land resources and the people,” he said.

The initiative is a multi-partner effort including community and indigenous representatives, the Fijian Government, private sector, and non-governmental organisations.

It was noted early on that unregulated development, unsustainable land use, overharvesting of marine resources, and disintegration of social and cultural assets were threatening the fragile ecosystems and livelihoods in the Lau province. The committee suggested that the Lau Seascape Strategy should be linked to districts and villages.

Roko Cinavilakeba said it was also time talks begin on the formation of a Lau Yaubula Council.

Urban drift a concern

A growing concern in villages throughout Lau is the rural – urban drift.

Council chairman Ilisoni Taoba referred to the latest census report that only 5 per cent of Lauans lived in villages.

The others he said were living in either Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and another group overseas.

“We cannot stop this urban drift and it is continuing,” he said.

Among those who had migrated were title holders and that was why their titles in the villages could not be filled.

“It’s when development decisions have to be dealt and signed that they would be needed,” he said.

Lau customs and culture

He said urban drift has also caused the lack of knowledge of Lau customs and culture.

Those affected he said were the children of Lauans who live in the urban centres and have never visited their villages. He encouraged Lauans to send or take their children back to the village.

Edited by Percy Kean

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