6 Jan 2003

Labour MP will boycott parliament in protest over the landowners Nabitu roadbloack

5:30 pm on 6 January 2003

A Fiji Labour party MP says he will boycott parliament this year because of the government's failure to help people forced to pay tolls to Nabitu landowners for using a government owned road.

Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi says he is upset that the landowners are being allowed to extort fees of up to 10 US dollars from people each time they past down the road.

At the height of the 2000 coup, the landowners installed an iron gate on a public road into Sigatoka and started charging vehicles that entered or left.

Mr Vayeshnoi says that the toll fees have stopped farmers from transporting their crops to markets, prevented children from going to school and the sick from receiving medical help.

"P eople are being subjected to continued extortion and those farmers and farming families living there are poor and they can ill afford to pay. The stand that I have taken is in response to a girl who has passed away a few days ago. She hailed from a very poor family and she was a crippled daughter of a family in Nabitu who could ill afford to pay the road toll to take her to visit hospitals."

Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi,

Last year the Minister for Works, Savenaca Daunidalo said the government would look into the Nabitu matter.