NATION

Land Greed- Former Squatters Attempt To Exploit System

People, who once lived in informal settlements, are now attempting to exploit the Ministry of Housing and Community Development’s lease and subdivision development plans. This was revealed by the Ministry
22 Jul 2020 12:23
Land Greed- Former Squatters Attempt To Exploit System
Permanent secretary for Housing Sanjeeva Perera.

People, who once lived in informal settlements, are now attempting to exploit the Ministry of Housing and Community Development’s lease and subdivision development plans.

This was revealed by the Ministry of Housing and Community Development Permanent Secretary Sanjeeva Perera in an interview adding they had applied for land which they were not entitled to.

Close to 250 informal settlements have been identified in Fiji and of this, 44 are on the ministry’s radar for development.

The Ministry of Housing started developing informal settlements to raise the standard of living in the shanty informal settlements.

Normally referred to as squatters, homes in these settlements are shanty and built on land which do not belong to them.

While the initial settlers had done so because of poverty, recent revelations suggest exploitation of people’s need for housing.

The Ministry of Housing’s Monitoring Unit has discovered that houses in informal settlements are also being rented and sold.

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 12.21.28 PMExamples

Mr Perera said they had had people returning from abroad because they thought they would be given a lease.

“There are two main criteria we look at.

“The first; the person should be residing at the settlement when we start the survey and second; they remain there when development starts,” he said.

“People who had sold houses are wanting their homes back because they think they would be getting a lease.

“In some cases, they are evicting their so-called tenants.”

When developing the informal settlements, the Ministry of Housing leases the land where the settlement is, takes note of people staying there, conducts a survey to see who really deserves the lot, develops the lot – roads, drainage, and other infrastructure, then subdivides them into lots and then gives leases.

The ministry has come across people trying to extend their homes with the idea that they would be getting bigger lots.

Mr Perera said when lots were divided and if boundaries ran through homes, then those homes have to be demolished.

He said people had to realise that in informal settlements there were no titles and when disputes arose in regards to sale of property or rental disagreements, there were very little legal avenues of dealing with such matters.

Ledrusasa informal settlement in Nadi is likely the first where leases would be given out, followed by Cuvu in Sigatoka and then at Waidamudamu in Nausori.

Awareness needed

Mr Perera said there was a need for awareness.

“Building a house on a land that does not belong to you is illegal. Subsequently, anything that arises from that house such as rental or sale is also illegal,” he said.

“And when there are disagreements in such situations, there is rarely legal means of solving the issue.”

Mr Perera said the law was pretty clear and a lot of hassle could be avoided if people become aware of what an informal settlement is.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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