4 Sep 2002

Fiji's NLTB regrets forced evictions

11:15 am on 4 September 2002

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board has deplored the actions of villagers armed with cane knives who forced out families from their homes near Lautoka on Monday and took them over.

The homes were on former state land which the government converted to native land and handed over to the NLTB this year.

The evicted families said they had written assurances from the lands department that their lease on the 9-hectare property would be renewed for another 30 years.

The NLTB's general manager, Kalivati Bakani, says the board will do everything in its power to stop unlawful evictions.

Mr Bakani says he is aware that some individuals have been misleading landowners and instigating unlawful activities.

He says villagers who have been issuing notices to tenants do not have any authority to do so and run the risk of court action by the NLTB.

But a spokesman for the villagers says the land has been gazetted as reserved for indigenous owners and the NLTB has no rights on it.

Meanwhile, the 42 members of the evicted families have been sheltering at various places around Lautoka, including a garage.