by Sai Lealea
The arrogance and naked deceit of the developer, Pacific Building Solutions, is there for all to see in its dealing with the landowners of Draunibota Bay in Lami. Having obtained the agreement of landowners to lease only 3.5 acres and for them to have gone about to publish its plans in newspapers for 36 acres of development is wholly deceitful and arrogant. Sadly, for landowners in Fiji, this attitude by developers will become increasingly common as the current regime seeks out investors to salvage Fiji's ailing economic situation. Developers are increasingly emboldened by the lax approach of the regime to ensuring proper process of consultation and scrutiny of development proposals. In such an environment, corners will be cut and landowners will be hoodwinked into dodgy deals such as intended for this one at Draunibota Bay.
The far more relevant question here though is:
what indications or encouragement were given and by whom, to the developers, to proceed on the understanding they could lease 36 acres instead of 3.5 acres as initially agreed?
If authorities were aware of the initial agreement, why did they allow the proposal to proceed to this stage? Given similar cases of rushed proposals concerning development of Fijian natural resources, the current regime must be orchestrating matters in favour of developers in its desperate quest to secure any kind of economic return. The regime has become blind and deaf to objectors as it bulldozes through its myopic development vision for the country. Some of those are beginning to fall apart as landowners begin to compare and encounter short term benefits with ongoing costs of developments.
It is therefore very heartening to see the determination and courage of the Fijian landowners in standing up for their rights, especially given the ever increasing number of attempts by developers, in collusion with the Bainimrama regime, to trick them into parting with their birth rights. The landowners are to be congratulated and serves as a warning and notice to others of unscrupulous developers now present in Fiji.
Fiji Times News
Landowners reject Draunibota deal
|Draunibota Bay in the distance - Bay of contention & Developer Deceit|
LANDOWNERS of Navakavu have rejected the Pacific Building (Fiji) Solutions' proposal for the development of Draunibota Bay in Lami.
The secretary of the landowners' committee handling the proposal plans by PBS, Taniela Vueta Bani, confirmed they met last Friday.
The meeting was attended by Mr Bani, Navakavu chief Na Rokobaleni Joape Tukitoga, Navakavu development chairman Joape Tukitoga Caginidaveta, and representatives from the seven yavusa — Nasei, Nabaramai, Waitabua, Nakaubeqa, Natodre, Laselase and Natabuivalu — of Navakavu.
"We refused to go ahead with the negotiation of the proposal after finding out the intention of Pacific Building Solutions to lease 36 acres instead of 3.5 acres which we had initially agreed to," Mr Bani said.
He said the initial agreement was for 3.5 acres only. This was decided by elders who met the representatives of PBS to discuss its intention to lease the 3.5 acres of foreshore at Wailekutu earlier this year.
"Before they met for their first seating to finalise finer details of the lease, the landowners found out a notice of foreshore development had already been published in one of the dailies. It was the leasing of the 36-acre foreshore instead of the 3.5 acres that had already been agreed on," Mr Bani said.
|PBS Managing Director, Michael Fairfax|
Ministry for Lands foreshore officer Thomas Fesau said if the landowners had rejected the proposal from PBS, there was nothing the government could do. He said the final decision was with the landowners themselves and now they would wait for an official confirmation from them.
"I have written a letter on behalf of the Rokobaleni and heads of the eight mataqali and this has been delivered to the roko of Rewa Province. We are following this channel and they will deliver it to the Ministry of Environment," Mr Bani confirmed. She said once they got a confirmation from the landowners of their decision, they would then release a statement.
PBS had proposed to subdivide and develop 1.3935 hectares of freehold land at Lot 1, Waibola in Wailekutu, a residential zone, and further lease the foreshore State land that consists of more than 14 hectares of mangrove and shrub land in the Wailekutu flood plain, about 11km from Lami Town.
The proposal is to construct the PBS main headquarters and have access to the foreshore for the purpose of sea transportation using its own barge to load and offload containers and cargoes for heavy civil engineering works.
The development proposal, divided into three phases, proposed stage one to construct a jetty and wharf, a container yard, 10 lots for commercial complex, reclamation of the proposed 4.5 hectares of foreshore and tidal flat for construction of a maritime facility, deepening of immediate mud flat through dredging, sourcing landfill and marine slipway for boat repairs and maintenance.
PBS managing director Michael Fairfax was unavailable for a comment but his personal assistant Ana Coogan-Whippy confirmed they had yet to meet with the Navakavu landowners.
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