Fiji is has more than 300 islands with most activities happening on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu. Many visitors to the islands ask the origin of the name ‘Fiji’ and while there is much folklore attached to it, it is understood that the original settlers called the country Viti whilst our Tongan neighbors called the archipelagos - Fisi. Hence the name name - Fiji.
Viti Levu is home to the country’s capital - Suva City. This makes it the main attraction for many businesses, international investors, international agencies and expats. Because of this, there is a significant increase in the demand for available and affordable housing and properties; and land for residential, commercial and agricultural use.
This has made Suva has become a bustling and often crowded city centre, there are some that would prefer to be away from that crowd and the busyness of a city; if are looking for a place that is tranquil, has beautiful stretch of beach and yet don’t want to be too far from the city - there is a place called “Lami Town.”
Overview of Lami Town
Nestled near the foot of Mount Korobaba - the highest mountain peak in Suva is Lami Town. This small town lies along the Queens Highway and falls under the Province of Rewa.
A unique feature of this seaside town is that on one side it is bordered by the mountain range of Korobaba and Nakobalevu mountain ranges along with the world famous Joske’s Thumb and on the other side is the Bay f island which offers residents or potential residents an oceanview with a major highway running through the Township.
Lami Town lies adjacent to Suva City on the southeast coast of Viti Levu. It is a coastal town in the north-western part of the greater Suva area and has 62.1 percent of the country’s total urban population.
Often referred to as the gateway to the Western Division, Lami Town is fast becoming a place to be with new shopping centres, re-developed hotels as well as affordable oceanfront houses as well a variety of services such as doctors, public transportation, markets, picnic spots and has become a hiking destination for many in teh Suva area or those looking for adventure.
Lami has a total land area of 680 hectares and for those needing to commute to Suva City everyday - it is a mere 14 minutes drive away.
Fiji is a multiracial and multicultural place. As such, Lami town also has the very same setting with iTaukei and Fijians of Indian descent making up majority of the population in the area. However in recent years, expats along with Fiji’s other ethnic minority groups which include part Europeans or those locally referred to as Kailomas, Chinese amongst others now call Lami home.
Lami was declared a Town in 1977 through a Ministerial declaration and the town has grown into an industrial centre characterized by both coastal areas and hilly terrain. There are two indigenous villages and several informal settlements within the town boundary.
Apart from the original village settlements, Lami became home to the man from Philippines, Singapore as well as from England and Scotland who worked on the whaling boats and trading vessels that called into port back in the early years of sandalwood and bech de mer trading. This today sees a huge melting pot of cultures and generations of kailoma or children of mixed ethnicity.
One of Lami’s main attraction is the Draunibota Bay which was later renamed to the Bay of Islands to reflect the many small islands that were inside this bay which is at a secluded corner of the Suva Harbour. This is the bay where the famed Mosquito Island which is usually hired out for picnics and other functions. It also has snake Island and Labiko which gives many residents a magnificent view. This bay also plays host to the four star Novotel Suva Lami Bay Hotel which used to be name Tradewinds and the Isa Lei Hotel - one of Fiji’s earliest pioneers in the Tourism industry.
Economy and Main Activities
Lami has become the hub for many major importing and exporting business houses due to its close proximity to the Suva Harbour as well as the easy access by boats and ships. In recent years, major shipping and freight forwarding operators Williams and Goslings has set up its base and container area in Lami. One of the country’s lead biscuit manufacturers - Flours Mills of Fiji also renovated and opened up its a factory in the Lami area to cater for its export arm of operations.
Apart from these notable companies, Standard Concrete has a large Mill and this has been in operation for years and employs hundreds from nearby settlements. Standard Concrete and Fiji Fish - a locally based company which exports wholesale seafood use a nearby jetty to be able to transfer their cargo to waiting ships ready for exports.
Lami also has an industrial area with many companies like Blue Gas, Humes, Asco Motors and bus companies all operating and at the same time creating employment for many.
Land use in Lami
In Fiji, there are three types of land systems - Native Land, Freehold Land and Crown Land. Native and Crown land can not be bought and sold however is only available for lease whilst Freehold land can be purchased, transferred or leased. Lami’s land tenure consists of three categories which make up Fiji’s land division system: native or native reserve land which is 51%, state land which stands at 21% and the remaining 28% is freehold land.
In Lami, the town is divided into three sections - Western, Central and Eastern. The main commercial and industrial area falls into the Central Ward and this makes up approximately 4 percent of total land use.
Some prominent housing communities in Lami include Uduya Point, Panoromic Heights, Delainavesi as well as Suvavou.
Lami town is situated on the main Queens road and this is a major highway in Viti Levu. The town has its own Police station which caters for the over 20, 000 inhabitants. An office of the Land Transport Authority or LTA is also based in Lami. This office one of the few that carries out road tests and vehicle inspections.
The small township also has a Health Centre as well as a Veterinary Clinic and a Dentist and a specialist doctor who focuses on herbal medicine.
Apart from this, all major shop outlets as well as second hand clothing stores are found in the small town. It also boasts a Post Shop, a recently opened RB Patel Harbour Point plaza and two upcoming Residential strata apartments as well as has an 80s decor to the streets.
Foreign investment opportunities
While incentives have been introduced in the National Budget to assist Fijians to become first time homeowners or landowners, non residents or foreigners are still able to purchase, lease or have titles transferred to them.
However, it is very important to remember some important points:
If you are obtaining a vacant State FreeHold land;
You must build a residential house with a minimum cost of $250, 000
The house or any building must be done within two years from the date of the sale, transfer or lease of the vacant land.
Residential State and Freehold land located within town or city boundaries cannot be sold, transferred or leased by foreigners.
Foreigners can however own Freehold property within municipal boundaries only if it is a strata title or a residential dwelling within integrated tourism developments, such as Naisoso Island in Nadi.
Foreigners can lease State and Freehold land for not more than 5 years.
In 2014, the Land Sales Act was amended with new provisions for non-resident Freehold owners. A clause under the new amendment sees a penalty for non-compliance include a fine up to $100,000 and a fixed penalty of 10 % of the price of the State or Freehold land.
If you are looking at leasing, purchasing or renting in Lami and engaging a real estate agent, please ensure that they are valid real estate agents. There have been bogus agents who have in many cases pocketed bonds and even deposits and then disappeared.
One way to ensure that you are dealing with a valid real estate agents it to contact the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board or REALB as they will have a list of valid agents and salespersons.