NATION

More Land Woes: Property Developer Encounters Similar Squatter Problem After Solving One

The land at the heart of this ever-growing debacle is at the end of Pritam Singh Road in Makoi.
20 Aug 2020 10:57
More Land Woes: Property Developer Encounters Similar Squatter Problem After Solving One
House built on Makoi land year marked for families evicted from Nanuku Settlement in Vatuwaqa on August 19, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

K Bhindi Brothers Limited may have solved one land issue for the Nanuku Settlement residents, but it appears that another has crept up.

This time, the land in Makoi, which they earmarked for the Nanuku residents in Vatuwaqa, has already been illegally occupied by outside residents.

Company general manager Dr Sagar Dhanji said it was intended for the 200 families from Nanuku.

The land at the heart of this ever-growing debacle is at the end of Pritam Singh Road in Makoi.

It was leased by the company through the iTaukei Land Trust Board (iTLTB) about two years ago, for the relocation of residents from Nanuku, Vatuwaqa.

On the other hand, they (K Bhindi Brothers Limited) will develop the land in Nanuku at a cost of $12 million.

It’s a classic case of  unintended consequence for the property and land development company, which they are asking the iTLTB to look into.

“These residents, who are on the land now, were given illegal rights to the land by the landowners,” Dr Dhanji said.

“They are not allowed to sub-lease land that has already been leased.

“We, the company, have asked the TLTB to resettle those informal settlers from our land because according to our lease agreement we are supposed to get the land as vacant possession.

“The landowners have been giving so-called leases to the homeowners, which is completely illegal.

“The board has been advised by our lawyers to work on a way to remove these people from our leased land so we can go ahead with our subdivision.”

Dr Dhanji anticipates starting development works at Nanuku, Vatuwaqa, as soon as engineering plans are finalised.

What residents say

Ashock Chand said he had been living there for about two years.

“I paid $1500 to the mataqali (landowning unit) head Rusiate and was told I could build my house here,” he said.

Muni Naicker also said he made a similar payment to get his piece of land.

Mr Naicker said this was the case for many who had built houses in the area, leading up to the K Bhindi Brothers’ leased land and on the land itself.

“We were told to approach this person because we understand he is the head of the landowning unit, and we did. We paid the money and now we have a home,” he said.

“I don’t think I have done anything illegal here.”

‘Landowner’ is silent

When residents at the Makoi site were asked to produce a land title, none of them could provide one.

The person suspected to have been giving the land has remained silent.

Meanwhile, the iTaukei Land Trust Board has repeatedly said any lease given on a Native Land must be dealt through them.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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