29 Nov 2005

Fresh row ignited in Fiji over $US32m hydro compensation

9:13 am on 29 November 2005

A fresh row has developed in Fiji over the award of US$32 million to some indigenous owners of the land on which the Monasavu Hydro Power Station and dam are built.

The Fiji Times reports that four landowning units or mataqali are questioning why eight other groups who have been receiving annual lease moneys of US$216,000 will be paid compensation when they are receiving nothing.

A spokesman for the four disgruntled land owning units, Kaliveti Matanioro, says they have not received a cent since their land was taken over in the early 1980s.

He says the eight other mataqali should not be receiving any compensation since the government had already acquired their property through a legal sale.

Mr Matanioro says the four landowning units he represents are not about to pay a lawyer more than US$3 million to get what they are entitled to.

He says members of their group were robbed of their resources by both the government and the Fiji Electricity Authority.

Mr Matanioro has warned that unless the government and other stakeholders come to the negotiating table immediately, his group will take action.

A spokesman for the Native Lands Trust Board, Nimilote Naivalumaira, has confirmed the eight landowning units to be paid compensation have been receiving annual royalties.