NATION

Illegal Settlers On State Reserves May Face The Law: Suva City Council

Suva and Lami special administrator Isikeli Tikoduadua said an enforcement team would be visiting the area.
08 Jan 2021 11:39
Illegal Settlers On State Reserves May Face The Law: Suva City Council
An aerial photo shows the number of illegal structures in the Wailea informal settlement in Suva on January 7, 2021. Photo: Leon Lord

Illegal settlers building homes among mangroves nestled on State Reserves could possibly face the law soon, says the Suva City Council (SCC).

New illegal and informal structures have been built along Fletcher Road in Vatuwaqa. A few right behind a council sign board stating that it was illegal to build structures, farm or cut trees on the land because it was a State Reserve.

Some of these “illegal” home constructions have led to more mangroves being cut down to make room. These mangroves are home to many marine species and are being invaded by the squatters.

Suva and Lami special administrator Isikeli Tikoduadua said an enforcement team would be visiting the area.

“We will then take the necessary legal steps required to ensure the law is not violated. The construction of any structure and even farming is against the law,” Mr Tikoduadua said.

A family, staying on the banks of the Vatuwaqa River, claimed they had permission from the landowners to settle there and had been staying there for more than two years.

Another family, also nestled in the mangroves, claimed they had State lease.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development has called for greater enforcement of laws by municipal councils in their areas where illegal structures had started to be constructed.

She said in their recent survey on informal settlements, they found people with homes in villages and in rural areas were constructing homes illegally.

She said illegal structures were violation of a number of laws including the Town and Country Planning Act.

Ms Kumar said in Waidamudamu they found 16 homes were rented.

She said illegal settlements affected the aesthetic appeal of a municipality. She said there was hard work being done to transform the major cities into smart cities.

The Ministry of Housing, on record, has 250 informal settlements nationwide. Currently, a few settlements were being developed and then proper leases given to people identified as true squatters.

The lease is not free, and a survey was done to find out how much Government subsidy would be given to people identified to get lots.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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