Focus on real estate

REAL estate activities play a vital role in the country’s economic development. This sector of the economy has been providing opportunities for many Fijians to have an adequate living in a proper and formal housing. In this issue, Business reporter ROPATE VALEMEI explores some of the prominent issues in the real estate sector from 2009-2013.

* Squatters angry at

relocation

On February 3, 2009, this newspaper published an article on squatters who had been told to vacate Namara Settlement in Tacirua East.

The squatters, mostly Fijians of Indian decent, said they would rather return to their homeland rather than move to Nausori.

In the same year, Government had planned to relocate squatters to Davuilevu in a bid to develop that settlement.

The angry squatters argued that their families had been living there for more than 100 years.

This was the second time they had been moved by Government for the development of the site.

These squatters initially lived in Vatuwaqa where the Government then told them to vacate to develop the space. Some of them moved to Kalekana, Wailoku, Newtown while the rest moved to Namara squatter settlement.

They claimed this was the second time they were told to vacate without any financial assistance.

* PRB finalises

Raiwai contract

In 2009, plans for the construction of the Raiwai flats by Public Rental Board (PRB) were finalised.

According to an article published on February 10 in The Fiji Times, PRB was still evaluating the contractors who had applied.

PRB said then it would maintain Raiwai as a residential zone and convert Raiwaqa into a commercial space.

For four decades, about 200 families were housed at the four-storey flats in Raiwai and Raiwaqa.

PRB studies revealed that buildings were vulnerable to earthquakes

Families were moved out in September, 2009 for the 16 weeks demolition works.

* Housing gives

more time

The Housing Authority was willing to consider extending the eviction deadline for squatters who needed more time to move from a settlement outside Suva.

This was reported in The Fiji Times on Saturday, February 14, 2009.

The story highlighted the authority’s advice on the extension of the amnesty period for the Namara squatter settlement.

The 92 families living in the settlement accepted the authority’s terms and condition for their relocation.

It was reported that tenants that needed more time were given extra time.

A total of $200,000 was budgeted for the relocation.

The authority then gave them $500 to help with transportation costs.

* Permits increased

The construction sector was projected to grow by 20.8 per cent with a share of 4.5 per cent towards Fiji’s gross domestic product GDP.

This, according to Reserve Bank of Fiji deputy governor Ariff Ali, is expected to be one of the major drivers of overall economic growth this year.

In the past five years, the construction sector grew on average by 8.9 per cent and contributed about 3.3 per cent to GDP.

“The five-year average growth from 2005 to 2009 prior to this was 2.8 per cent, equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP,” Mr Ali said .

“This means that the sector grew almost much stronger in the recent five-year period over the comparable period preceding it.

“The growth in the construction sector in recent years has been led by higher private sector construction activity as well as increased commitment toward capital and infrastructure related projects by the Government.

* Scheme write-off

In 2012, Housing Authority of Fiji had written off the accounts of three village housing schemes worth $110,000 in Macuata on Vanua Levu.

This included Nubu housing schemes, Yalava Village and the Waikatakata housing schemes.

A further three village accounts in the three villages were provided a helping hand from Housing Authority by temporarily suspending the interest for the their account until March the following year.

This, according to the authority, would allow the villagers to better place themselves financially considering the change in the distribution of lease money by the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB).

Villagers were urged to ensure that money meant for loan repayments were spent on village and their children’s development.

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