After Assessments, Many More Fiji Villages Slated For Relocation

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

At least 63 villages need to move; 36 so far have committed to do so

By Losalini Bolatagici

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 21, 2016) – At least 63 villages in the country need to relocate following assessments carried out by a Government team consisting of iTaukei Affairs Board, Lands and Mineral Resources Department, Water Authority of Fiji and Fiji Roads Authority officials.

In an interview, permanent secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Naipote Katonitabua said at least 48 villages that were hit by Severe TC Winston were approached by Government in the past three years to extend their boundaries to higher ground.

"Unfortunately, many refused. For those who agreed, they did not actually relocate until they felt the brunt of Severe TC Winston," he said.

Villages that were identified for relocation include 13 on Koro, one on Batiki, four in Cakaudrove, five on Vanuabalavu, seven on Ovalau, 11 in Tailevu North and seven villages in the province of Ra.

However, as of yesterday, 36 villages completed their relocation procedures. Landowners of these villages take an oath when they agree to relocate their villages.

The 36 villages include seven additional extensions of boundaries as requested on Vanuabalavu, Lau.

On Koro, 13 out of the 14 villages considered relocation, 11 of which have completed the procedural process.

Mr Katonitabua said the pending 27 villages (of the 63 that need to relocate) would await further advice from their respective provincial councils.

"The landowners of 25 villages need to officially present their consent and two villages will await Ministry of Lands' advice since the recommended new village sites are freehold lands," he said.

"As enshrined in Chapter 2 of the 2013 Constitution being the Bill of Rights, one of the core responsibility if the State is to provide a safe and secure homes for its people based on the equality for all and less unfortunate."

Mr Katonitabua added technical assessments would still be carried out before a site is confirmed to be secure for a village setup.

At A glance

TC Winston Village Relocation Programme

NDMO recommendation

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