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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 9) - Despite the political upheavals of the past several months which have caused construction activity to slow down around the country, at least one town in Fiji continues to grow.

Demand for residential, commercial and retail space in the tourism town of Nadi on western Viti Levu continues to rise.

In fact, Nadi town clerk Robin Ali says overall development in the municipality is much more (this year) than in previous years with construction activity high in almost all the sectors.

Demand for housing, particularly rose following the completion of two major projects (the Denarau Port Marina and the Radisson Hotel) as workers looked for accommodation.

With other hotel projects coming up, as well as many people who are working at the Momi and Natadola multi-million dollar projects in Sigatoka, but living in Nadi, and other upcoming projects, demand for housing has really gone up, Ali says.

People who were holding on to their housing projects have now started developing again and renting out at very good prices, he added.

According to him, residential developments are taking place all over the town, wherever there are vacant lots,are now being used to build. Some sugarcane land have been converted for urban use as well.

Says Ali, "(All these) despite the political upheavals. This is happening in Nadi (at least) because everyone knows that tourism is not going to die. If anything, it is temporary."

After the political upheaval, and following heavy travel advisories by neighboring countries of Australia and New Zealand, tourism numbers to Fiji had declined drastically but is now climbing back again.

Some major developments in Nadi Town include proposed shopping malls (at least four are in the pipeline), six supermarkets either proposed or under construction as well as residential, cinemas and other commercial developments.

The Nadi Town Council itself is considering developing a mall behind their head office; the old Cost-U-Less building is being converted into a big shopping mall, a FJ$20 million [US$12.9 million] shopping center has been proposed by hardware giants Vinod Patel on the Nadi back road (which is also expected to include cinemas) and a FJ$12 million [US$7.7 million] shopping complex by supermarket operators, RB Patel in Martintar.

At least four supermarkets are to be located in the proposed malls: for instance, the Cost-U-Less development will have one supermarket (believed to be taken up by New World), another in the Vinod Patel FJ$20 million shopping centre on the Nadi back road, a third in RB Patel shopping complex in Martintar and the fourth in the proposed mall by Nadi Town Council.

Two supermarkets are currently under construction and include the projects by the Consumer Store and Shop and Save.

But with demand still on the rise in every sector, space in the town is shrinking.

"There is a little bit of problem with the area space," Ali admits. "Space in the town is getting filled up, and we see people now just developing on the outskirts of the town."

Due to this, the council is making an application to include those areas in the town boundary "so that a proper control is kept on those types of developments" such as those developments coming up on the Nadi back road.

"We have already made an application. It all depends on the authorities. There is a process to follow. It may take a while because there are certain different types of process involved including public participation and the effect of converting from agricultural to urban."

Ali says some land that were used as cane farms are now being subdivided and converted into residential and some commercial lots.

With the existing boundaries, Ali says certain types of development might not be able to fit in like for major hotels but the expansion of the town boundary could help.

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