15 Jun 2015

Tongans given deadline for land issues

11:15 am on 15 June 2015

Authorities in the Tongan islands of Ha'apai have given residents two weeks to finalise land issues that have stalled the rebuilding of homes damaged by Cyclone Ian in January 2014.

Damage caused by Cyclone Ian to the Ha'apai island of Lifuka last month.

Photo: Tonga Daily News

Last week the Governor of Ha'apai, Mo'ale Finau, met with World Bank officials to discuss the progress of the project, to which the bank granted over 13 million US dollars.

But only half of the more than 500 houses needed have been built, despite plans to be finished by the end of July.

Mr Finau says issues around land ownership have proved difficult to negotiate.

He says the two-week deadline is necessary.

"After two weeks, for those who still haven't got consent there is no choice. The World Bank and the government will go back and build exactly where the house was destroyed and then perhaps the victim and the land-holder will sort it out later. We don't have any other option. This is the only way we can finish this project."

The Governor of Ha'apai, Mo'ale Finau.