1 Feb 2005

Fiji land occupation ends after government payout

7:39 pm on 1 February 2005

Indigenous landowners occupying a primary school in Fiji have agreed to end their protest in return for an 18 thousand U.S. dollar payout from the government.

A group of up to 70 landowners disrupted classes at the Nawaicoba Primary School in rural Nadi on Monday demanding the government pay them 33-thousand U.S. dollars before they would sign the renewal of the school lease.

The school's manager, Bala Dass, who sent his 280 pupils home, says the landowners agreed to accept a smaller sum from the Ministry of Education based on a new valuation of the property.

While school is expected to resume on wednesday Mr Dass fears landowners will target other schools..

"I feel that there are many other schools whose leases have expired and the government is supposed to pay. If they delay in paying these premiums I think the same thing will happen."

Mr Dass says the situation could have been avoided had the government acted earlier.