25 Oct 2006

Fiji landowners claim large areas of downtown Suva

10:55 am on 25 October 2006

Indigenous owners who have filed a High Court action for the return of the land on which the Fiji capital, Suva, is built have given details of their claims.

Their lawyer, Kitione Vuetaki, has told Fiji TV the land includes the central business district, Nasese, Vatuwaqa, Samabula, Flagstaff, Tamavua, Nabua, Walu Bay, Raiwai, Raiwaqa, Tacirua, Cunningham and surrounding areas.

In all the total area covers over 250-thousand hectares of some of the most valuable real estate in Fiji.

Mr Vuetaki says the landowners want all the land still held by the government to be returned directly to them.

He says for all the land that the state has sold as freehold, the government should pay compensation.

Mr Vuetaki says this would amount to well in excess of 600-million US dollars.

He says the landowners have been losing over 14-million US dollars in rent annually since they were dispossessed when Suva was made the capital by the colonial administration in 1882.

Mr Vuetaki says they have also filed legal papers claiming deprivation of the right to life because of the loss of their land.

The Suva High Court has ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear the claim.