FIJI LANDOWNERS BLOCK NADI RESORT PROJECT SITE

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 12) – Construction of a tourist escape was forced to a halt when landowners blocked the only access road to the development project yesterday.

Members of the mataqali [landowning unit] Vatuburu in Saunaka Village locked out the workers from carrying out their jobs at Fantasy Island in Nadi.

[PIR editor’s note: Fantasy Island, an assortment of private homes and resort properties, is on Wailoaloa beach near the Nadi River.]

Clan spokesman Apakuki Tuitavua said they were demanding 11,000 shares in the Fantasy Island project owned by local businessman Abbas Ali.

He said it was part of the deal with Mr Ali because the land was their only remaining vacant lot.

"We will let the work continue for now but we will also get our lawyers involved to sort clarification on certain documents," he said. "See it's been 14 years and we have to sort this matter out. Once we have sought clarification from our lawyers, we will decide on the next [course] of action which may lead to closing down the site again." Mr Tuitavua said the mataqali was okay with the use of traditional fishing grounds but not the development of four islands belonging to the mataqali.

He said Mr Ali informed them in a letter that the mataqali no longer had shares in the company and that its trustees who were appointed by the mataqali to the board had been removed.

But Mr Ali said no shares were owed to the landowning unit because they were no longer shareholders in the company.

He said the mataqali was out of the partnership because they did not hold the majority shares following the court's ruling.

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