17 Nov 2003

Squatter resettlement scheme underway in Fiji's Lautoka

3:45 pm on 17 November 2003

A scheme to resettle squatters is underway in the Fiji city of Lautoka.

The director of Housing and Squatter settlements, Dharam Lingam, says 500 lots will be made available within the next month for people living illegally on state land.

He says they've negotiated with the Native Lands Trust board for some land and the Housing Authority for low-cost housing.

Mr Lingam says while some squatters are resistant to the prospect of moving, others are keen to go.

"These will be fully serviced lots, with road access, drainage, water supply, electricity, telephones. Then they can make a choice of what kind house they can build based on their budget. They can also raise loans from the Housing Authority so we give a term for example the cost of the lots is eight thousand dollars, so they can pay the cost of ten percent only."

Dharam Lingam says work will begin on another 500 lots close to Suva by the end of the year and they're also formalising some squatter settlements and providing basic services to them.

There are at least 60,000 squatters around the country and 50 percent of them live on less than one U.S. dollar a day.