3 Aug 2006

Fiji court orders parties to land dispute to settle their differences

9:51 am on 3 August 2006

The Lautoka High Court has told Fiji's customary landowners that they have no right to block a railway line because the land concerned is legally vested in the Native Lands Trust Board.

The Fiji Times reports that Justice John Connors gave the ruling in a dispute over a four-week old blockade of a railway line at Ba which was lifted yesterday.

Justice Connors gave the NLTB and the Fiji Corporation until tomorrow afternoon to resolve the land dispute.

He said villagers must not take the law into their own hands and warned that there might be serious repercussions if their actions are repeated.

Justice Connors also told members of the indigenous landowning unit involved that they have no proper rights under the NLTB Act to make demands for premiums and goodwill payments.

He said only the NLTB had the powers to make such demands.

Landowners who had earlier threatened to defy the court order appeared before Justice Connors and told him they would abide by the ruling and had lifted the railway blockade.