15 Feb 2006

Squatter resettlement project in Fiji needs more government funding

4:12 pm on 15 February 2006

There are concerns being voiced that not enough is being done about the increasing number of squatter settlements in Fiji.

A Rotary-funded project near Lautoka is helping with squatter resettlement and has built 70 homes on 82 lots at Naikabula with a sewerage system, roading, and a community centre housing a kindergarten.

Project leader, Peter Drysdale, says this was achieved for the cost of 390,000 U.S. dollars and there are plans for stage two on a further 20 acres.

He says his team can build one house every six days.

But, Mr Drysdale says he's still waiting to hear if his application for government funding has been approved and the problem is not going away.

"As the sugar cane industry contracts, they're going to shed 7,000 farms from the hills. That's going to generate 28,000 people, half of them are going to end up in shanty towns on the periphery of our cities. This is a model that can absorb that rate of influx but I've got to get up to one per day. One every six days sounds impressive but it's not denting it. We're going backwards."

Mr Drysdale says he's spent the last 21 years building housing to resettle squatters and the project town at Naikabula could be used as a model elsewhere in the country.