19 Feb 2004

Fiji Government blamed for huge squatter problem in Suva

4:34 pm on 19 February 2004

A Director of Operations at the Suva City Council has called on the government to address rural development in order to solve the city's squatter problem.

Thakur Ranjit Singh says there are around 50-thousand squatters in and around the greater Suva area.

Mr Singh says they are straining the resources of the city council.

He says the council does not receive subsidies to deal with such issues so it is powerless to do anything.

Mr Singh says the government needs to look at it's policies.

"I think that the Government policy needs to be such that more resources of the country are diverted to rural development, so that the people in the rural areas feel that they are not neglected and they can be kept in the rural areas by the improved facilities there"

Mr Singh says the government needs to address the land lease issue.

But Fiji's Director of Housing, Squatter Resettlement and Landfill, Dharam Lingam, says the government will re-settle the squatters after negotiating suitable land with the Native Land Trust Board .

This squatter govt is a national problem. And the government is directing all the funding in the devpt of squatter devpts. In this respect, there's been a considerable allocation provided for the resettlement programme through various agencies.

Mr Lingam says the government is working in partnership with NGO's such as Habitat for Humanity, and is funding development programmes for the squatters.