30 Sep 2002

Squatter numbers rise in Fiji

4:00 pm on 30 September 2002

Fiji's director of housing, Dharam Lingam, says the country's squatter population had climbed over 56 thouand 4 hundred by the end of last year.

Mr Lingam told a weekend workshop that the number of squatter families has now risen to over eleven thousand - six thousand six hundred of who are Indo-Fijians, plus four thousand six hundred indigenous Fijians.

The rise in the number of squatters is being attributed to expiring land leases, rural-urban migration and unemployment.

Mr Lingham says squatting is a problem that has accumulated over the last few decades...

"If you look at the history which started 30 - 40 years ago, people started squatting when there's been excessive fragmentation of leased land due to increase in family size and also extended family and all dependent on the same piece of land and no longer is this land sustainable. The village people are slowly moving out and that squatter numbers are compounding and what's happened is that we're unable to meet their demands and then it went on and the demands started increasing. In this situation you will find close to 60-thousand people are squatters in a small country like Fiji."

Fiji's director of housing, Dharam Lingam.