Agreements have been signed between the Ministry of Local Government, Housing, and Environment and WesEng Consulting Limited and Wood & Jepsen Consultants, to formalize seven informal settlements in the Western, Central, and Northern divisions.
These are namely Luvu seaside, Field 4 and Tomuka in Lautoka, Sakoca in Suva and Vunivau A, Vunivau B and Vunika in Labasa.
The settlements all sit on Native land and Local Government, Housing, and Environment Minister, Parveen Kumar said their formalization has been an ongoing program, with payments made to the I Taukei Land Trust Board, administrators of all indigenous-owned land.
“The total premium that Government has paid to TLTB so they can dish out to the landowners amounts to $330,341.80,” he confirmed at the signing in Suva.
“The number of population that will benefit from these subdivisions will be 9,790. These are all people who are basically staying on a vakavanua arrangement, I would say.
And now we would like to formalize these settlements and I must state that all this has been done with the blessings of our landowners. There has been abundance of goodwill shown by the landowners. Then and only, we’ve achieved this much. And as I have said, this is ongoing and we have some other settlements where works have been carried out and in the near future.”
Kumar confirmed that the consultants would work on engineering plans for these settlements.
The signing was undertaken by the Minister, WesEng Consulting Limited Director, Andrew Singh, Rod Jepsen of Wood & Jepsen Consultants, Housing Director Kolinio Bola, accountant Praneel Chandra and Permanent Secretary for Housing & Environment, Joshua Wycliffe.
The Department of Housing was allocated $34.6 million in the Fijian Government’s National Budget 2017-2018, of which $1.8 million was directed towards operating expenditure, $32.1 million for capital expenditure and $0.8 million towards Value Added Tax (VAT). Part of the initiatives by the department was a new informal settlement relocation program targeting the relocation of 300 families. This program was allocated $1,310,000 and was to be guided by a new informal settlement relocation compensation policy.