4 Sep 2002

Fiji body to hold meetings with landowners over evictions

5:06 pm on 4 September 2002

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board is to hold meetings this week with the villagers who forcefully evicted cane farmers from their land after their leases had expired.

Semi Tabakanalagi, the deputy manager of the NLTB, says officers will be going to Lautoka to discuss the situation with the villagers who were armed with cane knives when they forced five families out of their homes.

Mr Tabakanalagi says the NLTB is taking steps to stop the unlawful evictions by landowners.

"What they are doing is illegal. They should not be going ahead doing all those notices and all those things without consulting us. What NLTB have done now, we have written to the landowners that they are not supposed to be doing that, that they are not lawfully entitled to be doing that and that's why we're going to a meeting just to try and peacefully resolve it."

Mr Tabakanalagi says, however, that if the landowners don't want to renew the leases, the families will be relocated to a residential or agricultural subdivision.

And, he says any written assurances given to the evicted families by the lands department that leases will be renewed, are null and void now that the land comes under the NLTB.