25 Feb 2003

Fiji government to pay landowners to lift blockade

8:40 am on 25 February 2003

The Fiji government has agreed to pay compensation to a group of landowners to lift a roadblock they set up at Nabitu in the rural hinterlands of Sigatoka four years ago.

The roadblock saw several hundred ethnic Indian farmers trapped behind gates being forced to pay up 20 US dollars each trip to reach markets, hospitals and other centres.

The Fiji Times reports that the government has agreed to pay 14-thousand US dollars to the landowners to lift the roadblock.

The provincial administrator in the region, Lote Naikasewa, is quoted as saying the roadblock had caused a lot of pain for the farmers and the state's compensation was a big relief.

The Labour Party MP for the area, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, says the government had turned a blind eye for too long to the gross violation of human rights at Nabitu and allowed extreme extortion of farmers to continue.