21 Dec 2011

Unease in Vanuatu over customary land sales

4:19 pm on 21 December 2011

There is concern in Vanuatu over the sale of customary land and its effects on landowners.

Prime real estate on Reef Island in Torba Province has been sold to an investor for a lease period of 75 years without the knowledge of customary landowners.

Two of the landowners have now travelled to Port Vila to seek legal advice.

Likewise, prime land on Turtle Island has also been sold to an investor interested in tourism development for about 400,000 US dollars.

Our correspondent Len Garae says the constitution is vague about rules governing customary land sales.

"Potential investors [and] people with money come into the country and talk of interest to buy land. And when they are over a few millions, that they mention that they are prepared to deposit or pay to the landowners, and money doesn't come easy, so these people are suckers to temptation and accept the money and sell. And many times investors buy land at much less than the value of the market."

Len Garae.