Lease For Victims Of Alleged Scam
In their desperation to get land security more than 800 squatters in Sakoca, Tacirua, near Suva, got sucked in by an alleged scam and lost thousands of dollars.
From the depths of despair, they turned to the Minister for Local Government and Housing Parveen Bala for help.
Mr Bala yesterday announced what they had always hoped for in their dreams and prayers – a 99-year lease for the plots they have been living on for many years.
Some have been living there for more than 25 years. Mr Bala made reference to the alleged scam in a press conference yesterday.
Reginald Gounder, 31, said he was one of the victims and had paid a contractor $2000 for a block.
“But this new lease is a blessing. This is good. Black and white document is what we need.”
Kamal Chandra, 60, said they had been living in Sakoca for 25 years and receiving the news of their land lease is what they would be looking forward to.
“For more than 25 years we had been paying to the mataqali, the owners of the land. I did not pay money to the so called scam artists.
“But other squatters did.”
Mr Chandra said: “A lot of people have been living here for years. Those who were scammed did not get any money back. The minister’s action has brought a sense of relief.”
Emotional Naseem Begum, a widow, has been living in the area for 23 years. She said she was looking forward to her lease documents.
She said she was also a victim of the alleged scam. She said she wanted to leave the past behind and move forward.
Mr Bala said Sakoca was one of the interesting squatter settlements, as residents were allegedly manipulated.
An agreement was signed yesterday by the Ministry for Local Government and two consultants WesEng Engineering and Wood and Jepsen consultants for the development of three settlements in Lautoka, three in Labasa and Sakoca in the Central Division.
Mr Bala said this would benefit a population of 9719 residents who were staying on land through a vakavanua (informal) arrangement.
“Now it would be formalised and all this was made possible with the blessing from the landowners, there have been abundance of goodwill shown by them.”
Mr Bala added that the Government had made it clear that the residents would not be moved during the process.
“If need be, if there are major road works we will assist those tenants to relocate.”
He confirmed that civil works would officially begin this year.
Source : fijisun.com.fj. March 20th, 2018