$1.7 MILLION SQUATTER PROJECT TO HOUSE 1,800 FIJIANS

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Houses at $11.21 weekly to be ready for occupation next year

By Shalveen Chand SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 21, 2011) – In Fiji, 1,800 families from Suva's two largest squatter settlements will be granted leases when the housing project in Jittu Estate is completed next year.

The project, which is partnered between the Pacific Community Network (PCN) and the Government, started at the beginning of this year and another phase of work will be completed at the end of the month.

PCN director Semiti Qalowasa said the FJ$3 million [US$1.7 million] project would see the construction of single and two bedroom houses at Jittu Estate in Suva.

He said Jittu Estate was described as hundreds of tiny tin shacks dotted along a hilly landscape and stretching for a few kilometers in suburban Suva and bogged by pools of raw sewage and piles of garbage.

This, he added, the PCN wanted to change.

"Once finished, the place, which once housed squatters would look like an urban housing project. Not only that, people in the squatters would be given the first opportunity to occupy the concrete structures," Mr. Qalowasa said. These houses would be affordable where the sharing would be done on a fifty-fifty basis. Ten years with four percent interest, meaning some people would be paying as low as FJ$20 [US$11.21] a week for the houses," he said.

The FJ$3 million [US$1.7 million] project is funded by the Fiji Government through aid money. Mr. Qalowasa said the houses, if everything went according to plan, would be ready for occupation this year.

He said first priority would be given to Jittu Estate and Wailea residents.

He said those who missed out would be given a chance to relocate to Lomaivuna in Naitasiri.

PCN has also identified land in Sigatoka that will see a similar housing project, which the PCN hopes will be able to house all squatters in the western town.

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