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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 2)—A landowning unit yesterday refused to accept a High Court injunction ordering it to reopen a sugar railway track they have blocked off.

The Sugar Cane Growers Council had whipped up support for a harvest protest in the Ba Milling District today but deferred that after obtaining a High Court injunction on Monday afternoon.

The planned protest was to show its disappointment towards the Fiji Sugar Corporation and Native Land Trust Board for failing to resolve a dispute with a group of landowners in Ba.

Members of the Mataqali Masokanalagi, in Sorokoba Village, sealed off a railway track leading to Rarawai Mill three weeks ago, leaving thousands of farmers in parts of Ba and Tavua with no option but to transport their crop by lorries.

Council chief executive Jagannath Sami said the protest was planned after councillors of Ba and Tavua unanimously agreed they could not stand by and watch farmers suffer in silence.

But Mr Sami said since they secured the High Court injunction, the protest had been deferred as they awaited the outcome of court proceedings that are expected to begin today.

Mr Sami said they undertook legal action as a final bid to bring all parties involved in the dispute together.

He said they hoped the injunction would be able to start talks between the FSC, NLTB and landowners.

However, yesterday when council representatives visited Sorokoba to present the High Court injunction, the landowners refused to accept the document, saying it should be presented to their lawyer, Kemueli Qoro, of Lautoka.

Landowners' spokesman, Samuela Kautoga said they could not understand why the council sought an injunction when the FSC and NLTB were to blame for the delay in resolving the dispute.

Mr Kautoga said Mr Sami had never visited them.

He said the landowners were always willing to discuss and resolve the issue but neither FSC or NLTB had shown any interest in trying to resolve the impasse.

August 2, 2006

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