30 Jan 2007

Fiji court hears that Suva landowners should get US$768m in compensation

2:51 pm on 30 January 2007

The Suva High Court has been told that the descendants of the original owners of the land on which the Fiji capital is built should be paid 768 million US dollars in compensation.

The figure has been put to Justice Devendra Pathik by a USP lecturer and economist, Jese Verebalavu.

Ms Verebalavu said the Suvavou landowners had been deprived of their rights to the land of their ancestors and did not enjoy the benefits enjoyed by other indigenous owners of valuable land.

The Suvavou landowners were relocated on the outskirts of Lami when the British colonial administration shifted Fiji's capital from Levuka to Suva in 1882.

Ms Verebalavu said some chiefs used deplorable means and abused their traditional ties with the people to give the land away.

Ms Verebalavu said over 4,000 hectares of land was sold by the colonial administration at a fixed rate of 600 pounds in 1886.

She said some state land in Suva should be reverted back to native title and given to the Suvavou landowners and they should be compensated with 768 million US dollars.