27 Jun 2012

Villagers claim land illegally leased for development in Vanuatu

4:43 am on 27 June 2012

Members of a village on the small island of Moso in Vanuatu are angry that a lease has been issued on a piece of land that is currently in dispute.

The island which is part of Efate, has two villages, and the Chief of the long-established Sunae village, says the other settlement of Tassiriki has secured some title over an area of land in contention.

Jimmy Meameadoma says the bulldozers have already been through nearly a kilometre of land and they believe the intention is to subdivide and sell the plots to overseas investors.

He says the Department of Lands, and the Minister of Lands knew that the customary owner hadn't been identified.

"How can a development happen on a land that is subject to dispute and yet the minister has gone ahead and signed a lease, I mean to me this is illegal dealing."

Jimmy Meameadoma says they were able to get the Environment Department to issue a Stop Work notice last Friday.

He says his village doesn't want to see the land developed, which contains some sites sacred to them.