Labasa is the main township of Vanua Levu- Fiji’s second largest island. This makes the town a crucial point of administration and public service for Fiji's Northern division, which covers mainland Vanua Levu and surrounding islands such as Taveuni, Kioa, Rabi, Laucala, Qamea, Macuata i wai, Drua, Nagodo, Yaqata, Cikobia, Mali, Talailau, Nagano, Cukini, Vorovoro, Tilagica and Namukalau.
Labasa’s central business district (CBD) lays on the banks of the Qawa River, and is home to retail, restaurants and financial franchises that are typically found in other towns and cities. The other rivers that run through this township are the Labasa and Wailevu Rivers.
The Labasa Mill still operates today as the sole mill on Vanua Levu. It was opened by the Sydney-headquartered Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) Company in 1893 and attracted a community of European workers and managers. Many of them have remaining descendants such as the Hill, Moore, Hill, Shute, Harman, Simpson, Miller, Whippy, Barrack and Eyre
Like other mills operated by the CSR around Fiji in the late 1800s and early 1900s, its operations in Labasa had a large labour base of indentured workers from India. Many of the descendants of these labourers also remain, as successful business owners and cane farmers.
Historical notes also confirm that the class structure implemented by the CSR Company was reflected in the housing of its workers; large, hilltop bungalows were assigned to the company’s higher management while engineers and other moderately skilled staff were given homes halfway down the hill, and labourers were allocated crowded barracks in what was known as the “lines”, which were typically long wooden buildings with living units.
Much of the present CBD is traditionally owned by villagers of Macuata Province (such as Naseakula village), and therefore the area has also commonly been referred to as Nasea.
Many of the buildings in the CBD belong to the Jaduram family and Charan Jeath Singh Group of Companies, which also owns the town’s finest hotel, the Grand Eastern, and Friendly North Inn amongst other commercial and residential properties.
Economy & Main Industries
The township has its roots in sugarcane farming, and this remains a key source of income for the many farmers of the vast tracts of agricultural land surrounding the CBD. Many are vegetable farmers and seasonally supply cane to the Fiji Sugar Corporation, whose mill is located outside the CBD and has a sizeable employment base of mill workers and management.
There is a relative retail industry, with a variety of textile and merchandise shops, hardware, restaurants, banks and financial service suppliers. The Charan Jeath Group of Companies has a portfolio of businesses that include the Gurbarchan Foodtown supermarket, Gosal Distributors (the group’s importing and distributing arm), Charan Katonivere Holdings Limited and Orange Coast Investments Limited, which manages the hospitality aspects of the group’s hotels and motels. Additionally, the Group owns sugarcane farms with modern farming equipment and commercial vegetable farms in Labasa.
Smaller economics include hospitality and aviation, that cater to a select group of hotels in the CBD and the Labasa Airport, which is located outside the CBD, along the flatlands of Waiqele and near the Wailevu River.
Pine is also a sizable economy, with native landowners leasing tracts of their land as plantations for pining companies.
Key Areas of Development
Rising areas of development are notable along Labasa’s Kings Rd, between its CBD and the Fiji Sugar Corporation Mill, near the Siberia Rd junction, where Government offices and the Labasa Magistrates’ Court are located. Upcoming developments here include a Northern division branch for retail giants, Damodar City, which is expected to include major brand retail stores, speciality shops, restaurants and a food court and a range of cinemas. A new hotel, the Northman Inn, is also earmarked for this area as a joint venture between the Damodar Group and Paul Jaduram Investments Limited.
Also rising along here is a new complex for the Fiji National University.
There are several complexes in the CBD that have recently opened and offer variety of retail and restaurant spaces such as the SB Khan Mall, the first three-storey mall with a sensor escalator in Vanua Levu.
Labasa's areas of development include a new residential subdivision in Covata by the Housing Authority of Fiji.
Weather, Climate & Geography
Labasa is surrounded by a mix of mountainous terrain with dense jungle and agricultural flatlands. There are three main rivers - the Qawa, Labasa and Wailevu- that run through the area. Delailabasa is the highest residential peak in this Northern town.
Population & Demographics
Aside from Savusavu town, Labasa is the main urban point of Vanua Levu. Labasa lays in the North-Eastern part of Vanua Levu, within Macuata, one of Fiji’s 14 provinces
The Fiji Bureau of Statistics’ 2017 Census notes that the population of Macuata province stood at 65,983 and decreased by 8.9 per cent from a decade ago, continuing the trend that was first observed during the inter-censal period of 1996 and 2007. From the population of Macuata Province, 14.7 per cent of people aged 3 and above were noted to have at least one disability. It is also notable that the population of rural Macuata province decreased by 4,875, which is attributed to mainly to the movement of people out of rural areas, and overall, the rural proportion of Macuata’s population decreased from 60.3% in 2007 to 58.8% in 2017.
Recreational facilities include the Gurbachan Singh Swimming Pool and Lion’s Park, along Siberia Rd. Picnics are popular at Korovatu Beach, while bars for the nightlife include pubs such as Pontoon.
Schools & Educational Institutes
Primary schools in the vicinity include Bocalevu Muslim Primary School, Labasa Muslim School, Labasa Primary School, Labasa Sangam School, Nasekula District School, Qawa Primary School, St. Augustine’s School, Guru Nanak Khalsa School and St.Mary’s Primary Schools.
High schools include Labasa SSK College, Sangam High School, All Saints Secondary School, Bulileka Secondary School, Labasa Arya Secondary School and Valebasoga Secondary School.
There is also the Labasa School for the Handicapped (along Siberia Rd) for physically-impaired students.
Tertiary institutions include local campuses for the Fiji National University, the University of the South Pacific and the TISI Sangam College of Nursing & Health Care Education.
Healthcare & Emergency Services
The Labasa Hospital is near the CBD and can be reach on 679 8811444
There are also various social organizations in Labasa, such as the following:
- Crippled Children’s Society | 8811028
- Fiji Red Cross Society | 8811139
- Macuata Muslim League | 8811073
- St Vincent de Paul Society | 8811763
- Zanana Muslim League | 8811066
Labasa is regarded as the administrative capital of Fiji’s Northern division, and is home to a range of Government offices and statutory agencies that include the following:
- Fiji Commerce Commission|Lot 3, Silas Ramzaan St | 679 891 1624 | email@example.com
- Fiji Electricity Authority- Cashier & Customer Care Centre|2 Park Street, Labasa Town
- Fiji National Provident Fund|Rosawa St | 881 2111
- Fiji Revenue & Customs Services|1st Floor Ratu Raobe Building- Corner of Nanuku & Jaduram St | 679 8819700
- Immigration Department | Level 1, Ratu Raobe Building, Jaduram St| 679 881 1520
- I Taukei Land Trust Board|Naseakula Rd | 679 8811122
- Labasa Hospital, Siberia Rd | 679 881144
- Ministry for Labour: Ratu Roabe Building, Jaduram St | 679 8811643
- Ministry of Lands & Mineral Resources|Macuata House | 679 881422
- Office of the Attorney-General|Level 2, Ro Qomate House, Hospital Rd | 679 8814206
Key Transport Services
The Labasa Airport is located at Waiqele, outside the CBD, and provides regular flights to Suva City and Nadi Town, making it a focal point of commute for tourist, locals and business travellers. Airlines that service these routes include Fiji Airway’s domestic carrier, Fiji Link, and Northern Air.
There is a range of rental car companies such as Labasa Rental & Tours (9299180 / 9839742), Vanua Rental Cars (8811060 / 9908248) and Budget Rent A Car (8811999).
Shipping services from Labasa to Savusavu Town (located towards the other half of Vanua Levu) and Taveuni Island can be booked through Miller Shipping Services (9992025), which has an office at Savilla House.
Types of Properties
The Fiji Sugar Corporation compound is filled with colonial-style residences reminiscent of the Victorian influence in the early 19th century, when Europeans from the Sydney-headquartered Colonial Sugar Refinery Company oversaw management of the town’s mill.
Much of this land is Freehold and is walking distance to a New World Supermarket and a school in the vicinity, making this neighbourhood an expedient point of residence. Thought these houses are resided by FSC employees, they are noted to be lucrative if put on the selling market.
Siberia is a large neighbourhood with proximity to parklands and playgrounds, a public swimming pool, motel, the Labasa Hospital. Labasa School for Special Education, the Labasa Old People’s Home and a local ashram, with regular bus services. This is a congested area with varying types of residential properties.
The Housing Authority of Fiji is developing a new subdivision at Covata that will offer over a hundred residential lots.
The Labasa central business district is a mix of State and Native land titles, and though there are few residential apartments in stock, there is a variety of hotels that are convenient for business travellers. These include the North Pole, Takia Hotel, Northern Winds and the Grand Eastern Hotel.
The nearby Hospital Rd is a focal administrative point with properties housing local government services, a health centre, churches, a car dealership and fire station. Upcoming developments on large vacant lots adjacent to this have been quickly snapped up in the past few years, with construction of major retail complexes and educational institutions underway, to add to the series of services in this area.
Industrial properties are prevalent between the CBD and Naseakula Village, with lots allocated for car yards, manufacturing and a host of other economic activities.
Korovatu is a relative distance from the riverside CBD, but entails generous tracts of land by the ocean. There are expansive Freehold lots that are suitable for resort development, with land also suitable for prawn farms and rock crushing. The Labasa Airport at Waiqele is located 30 minutes from this scenic area, giving this seafront area expedient travel routes.
Freehold is also evident in Seaqaqa, where agricultural land abounds and also appropriate for farming business such as cane, vegetables, cattle and sheep farming.
Dreketi also offers a prevalence of Freehold farm lands that include live tock, cash crops and coca plantations.