16 Mar 2004

Paramount Chief in Fiji's Naitasiri province rejects 12 million US dollar damages claim

7:28 am on 16 March 2004

The paramount chief of Fiji's Naitasiri province has dismissed a claim for 12 million US dollars demanded by a Navuso village chief for damage to the marine resources of the lower Rewa River by the construction of a bridge.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata has told Radio Fiji that the claim by Ratu Loco Qiolevu is his own and not the demand of the people of Navuso.

Ratu Inoke says he is concerned about the possible effects of the new European Union funded bridge, construction of which is yet to start, on the fish and marine resources of the river.

But he says they will lay their claim before the proposed Lands Claims Tribunal which is expected to be established within 12 months.

The Prime Minister, Lasenia Qarase, says legislation to set up the tribunal will go before cabinet at its next meeting and to parliament soon after.

The Fiji Tribunal will be modelled on the Maori Land Claims Tribunal in New Zealand.