Land damage irks owners

By Samisoni Pareti

Landowners of a small village in Tailevu are up in arms over the illegal construction of more than one kilometre of road on their land by Standard Concrete, a subsidiary of the indigenous Fijian investment company, Fijian Holdings.

Fiji’s high court had ruled in April this year that the gravel extraction company acted unlawfully when it built a road on land that belongs to the clan (mataqali) Ulugai of Dakuinuku Village in Sawakasa, just outside Ratu Kadavulevu School.

Landowners claimed the company destroyed a large part of a virgin rain forest when they constructed the road. 

Pictures made available to Islands Business show land scarred by earth moving machines, with huge chunks of soil removed and trees felled.

Landowners say during heavy rain, the road is made impassable to vehicles due to mud and sludge.  

Clan leader Sakiusa Waqa said that although they secured a restraining court order against Standard Concrete, the company is in breach of the order by sending in earth moving machines and heavy trucks on the road yesterday.

“The judge had clearly ordered them not to use the road until it has been lawfully released for their use,” said Waqa. “The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) needed to de-reserve the native land on which the road is constructed. Approval of the Fiji Road Authority is also required before [they] can then request us to give our consent to lease the land.

“As far as we know, no consent for lease has been granted because none has been requested.”

Basic Industries, owners of Standard Concrete have not responded to our questions today, while the Deputy General Manager of the TLTB Solomoni Nata said they are looking into the matter.