26 Jun 2012

Villagers in Vanuatu angry at coastal land destruction

7:15 pm on 26 June 2012

Members of a village from the small island of Moso in Vanuatu say land they have a customary right to has been illegally leased and advertised to overseas investors.

The island, which is off 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 that's in dispute.

Jimmy Meameadoma says the Department of Lands was aware that the area was in contention yet they've just heard that the Minister of Lands signed a lease to the other village for the land.

He says they were able to get the Environment Department to issue a Stop Work notice last Friday but the damage was already done.

"The area that has been destroyed is between half a kilometre to a kilometre of coastal land and we're talking destruction to mangroves. Any particular custom sites that have significance to us with the bulldozer going in, they've destroyed that now."

Jimmy Meameadoma says they have evidence that a real estate company has already been set up to sell plots of the land.