11 Feb 2019

Call for inquiry into development on Fiji's Malolo

1:54 pm on 11 February 2019

There are calls for an independent probe into a Chinese resort development on the Fiji resort island of Malolo.

Malolo Island

Photo: Google Maps

Locals are outraged that work by Freesoul Real Estate has damaged their fishing grounds, mangroves and reefs.

Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua said the conduct of Chinese companies and contractors that have come to do business in Fiji must be addressed immediately by the government.

"Somebody is not being honest. This cannot be allowed to happen in Fiji. We've been allowing this sort of thing to happen in this country for far too long and it's become worse since our Look-North Policy opened doors to Chinese developers coming into Fiji.

"They just seem to have a blatant disregard for our natural resources and for Fiji's laws."

Ms Qereqeretabua said she was shocked to hear that Freesoul continued construction works even after two court injunctions had ordered it to stop.

She has called for an inquiry into how Freesoul's offending appears to be ongoing.

But Freesoul said it followed all the processes required under its leases.

In a full page advertisement in the local media, Freesoul said the development had been approved by the iTaukei Land Trust Board with leases issued by the Director of Town and Country Planning.

Freesoul also said the customary land owners had consented to the development including waiving their fishing rights.

"The injunctions referred to in the news article that ran in New Zealand are insofar as Freesoul is concerned, subject to pending litigation and further orders of the High Court.

"It does not stop our compliance with Town and Country Planning, TLTB and State requirements to ensure Freesoul completes this development in accordance with the approved EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)."

Environment Minister Mahendra Reddy said the government would prosecute Freesoul Real Estate Development for breaching environmental conditions for its project on the island.

He said Freesoul's original plans had been rejected in December last year after an environmental impact assessment found they would be too destructive.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde said he had sanctioned charges against the company, which could face fines of up to $US352,000 or up to 10 years in prison.

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