15 Mar 2006

Fiji government to consider declaring Sigatoka dunes a national monument

2:09 pm on 15 March 2006

A Fiji Government agency says it is confident provisions in the National Trust Act give it the power to stop the removal of sand from dunes at Sigatoka.

A protest at the site over the past week ended yesterday when the locals removing the sand agreed to stop after the Government stepped into the dispute.

The director of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Peni Cavuilagui, says the dunes are the most important such example in the entire Pacific.

He says some of the dunes are already under direct government control with the rest freehold and it is from this land that the sand is being removed.

Mr Cavuilagui says he believes they have the power to stop some activities on private land that is culturally or archeologically significant.

"Through the powers of that Act that we can do that, but it is following certain procedures as well, legal procedures involved - that is to gazette it and declare it as a monument."