SUIT FILED AGAINST NAURU OVER MARSHALLS LAND

By Giff Johnson

For Marianas Variety

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Nov. 3) — Majuro’s leading traditional chief has filed suit against the Nauru Council over new construction at the site of the former Eastern Gateway Hotel in Majuro.

Although Leroij (chief) Atama Zedkaia’s complaint to the High Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the Nauru Council was rejected by High Court Judge James Plasman, she and other landowners have put the Nauru Council on notice that it’s time to pay up or get out.

Zedkaia was joined by the two other traditional owners of the property, Hilda Samuel and Francis Langinbit in the lawsuit that was filed by their attorney David Strauss.

Langinbit’s daughter Barbara Langinbit filed an affidavit in the case that claims that the Nauru Council has not paid rent on the prime lagoon-front property in six years and owes $121,500 to local landowners.

She said that the Nauru Council has been given a deadline of Nov. 14 — two weeks from now — to pay its back-due rent for the property. Strauss said the landowners are prepared to reclaim the property if the Nauru Council does not make its rental payment by the deadline.

In the mid-1970s, Nauru first constructed a small, one-story hotel on prime beachfront property in downtown Majuro called the Eastern Gateway Hotel. It was torn down in the late 1970s, and a work started on a three-story hotel. By the mid-1990s, the Nauru Council had given up on the partially built facility, which has never gone into operation. In recent years, Nauru authorities have sublet the property to various Asian businesses that have established a car rental and repair shop, a take out store, restaurants, night club and rental apartments on the premises.

The civil suit filed by the three landowners complained that people were putting up concrete buildings in front of the former Gateway Hotel without permission of the landowners.

November 3, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

 

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