IT was good news for some 104 families living in the Jittu Estate squatter settlement in Raiwaqa, Suva, as the first phase of the Lagilagi Housing Project was completed yesterday.
This first phase of the $8.7 million project — funded by the government and the German Catholic Agency, Misereor — was officially opened by the Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua.
Col. Saumatua said the roofs have now been completed on all the buildings for the two sections of phase one of the project.
"In 2010 the government contributed $400,000 and this year we contributed $280,000 again. We have a memorandum of understanding with the Peoples Community Network and as we progress we will be working together to enable funding of the projects," he said.
Col. Saumatua said the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights have also assisted the government with the project.
"We know that the people of Lagilagi and Jittu are extremely happy to see these buildings going up. It is the fulfilment of a dream and the climax of a lot of planning and hard work," Col. Saumatua stated.
He said the project will be completed in February next year and the 104 families will start occupying the flats in March.
Col. Saumatua said decent housing was a basic human need and his ministry was happy to see housing projects such as the Lagilagi Housing project enable people to have a well constructed home of their own.
The PCN consultant Fr Kevin Barr said each household living in the flat would have to pay one third of the cost of a housing unit over a period of 12 years before they could own it.
Fr Barr said through this, people living in squatter settlements would be able to secure proper land tenure.
"Squatter settlers won't be evicted; they will have decent housing and a better living standard," he said.
The first phase of the project was completed by Fortech Construction Limited with individual flats outfitted with two bedrooms, a dining room, laundry and toilet facilities, and a kitchen.