23 Oct 2002

Fiji landowners oppose Studio City plan

11:15 am on 23 October 2002

A group of indigenous landowners has threatened court action against the Fiji government and the Native Lands Trust Board over the site of the proposed 500-million US dollar Studio City.

The Daily Post quotes the landowners as saying they are the rightful owners of the land located at Yaqara in north eastern Viti Levu and they will go to court if it is not returned to them.

The spokesman, Noa Sakava, says finalising a lease with a foreign company without the knowledge of the rightful owners is a serious matter.

Mr Sakava says the Native Land Trust Board is losing the trust of the Fijian people because it should sort out the ownership issue first before entering into any lease agreement with Paradise Entertainment Limited.

The company, which wants to develop the site for its Studio City project, has been forced to halt work because of the land dispute.

Mr Sakava says recent statements by Paradise Entertainment's executive chairman, Philip Gerlach, that the company is losing business clearly shows that issues related to land disputes should be taken seriously.