24 Jan 2005

Landowners of Fiji's Monasavu Dam threaten to seize installation again

6:43 am on 24 January 2005

Landowners of Fiji's main hydro power plant at Monasavu have threatened to seize the installation again if their dispute regarding a compensation payment is not resolved by March the 8th.

The Daily Post reports that the threat follows the failure of mediation talks scheduled for last week over the payment of 31-million US dollars in compensation.

The amount was first agreed to when the landowners seized the hydro plant during the Speight coup, causing severe power blackouts for nearly three months.

Its payment has since been the subject of court cases between the landowners and the state-owned Fiji Electricity Authority.

But High Court judge, Justice Gerard Winters, arranged for mediation talks, which were to be chaired by the former chief justice of New South Wales, Sir Lawrence Street.

But the Authority representatives failed to turn up.

A spokesman for the landowners, Semi Naikau, is quoted as saying nothing has been resolved by the three previous indigenous governments in Fiji.

Mr Naikau says if the current government fails to pay up, they would vote for the opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, in the next election.