2 Dec 2013

60 squatters evicted in East Efate, Vanuatu for wharf development

7:12 am on 2 December 2013

Vanuatu police have evicted 60 squatters from La Bay Land in Forari, on East Efate, so the government can build a new wharf and fisheries facilities at the site.

Our correspondent, Len Garae, says 25 police officers acted on a court warrant to evict Chief Tariwer of Emau Island and his people, who have been squatting in the area for about six months.

He says Chief Tariwer claims he is the custom landowner of Forari because his ancestors were given the land by the original landowners.

But Mr Garae says other local groups also claim custom ownership and say Chief Tariwer has land in Emau Island to return to.

"The government is not going to change its stance because it wants the project to start. Funding for the project is being sought, and the people have received the message and they have to be gone from the place so that the government can start the project."

Len Garae says local people are supportive of the eviction, as they understand the economic benefits of the new wharf.

He says it is not known where the squatters are now.