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Fiji Time: 6:49 AM on Friday 18 April

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No forced eviction

Maciu Malo
Saturday, January 05, 2013

THE government says it will not forcefully vacate mineworkers made redundant by the then Emperor Gold Mine in Vatukoula in 2006.

This, after revelation that only one of the 200 plus families initially identified for relocation had shown interest in moving out of company premises.

Lands acting permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa said government and the new owner, Vatukoula Gold Mines, were working with the representatives of the redundant miners to find a transparent way in dealing with the issue.

"We cannot force them to move based on humanitarian grounds but we need to find an amicable solution for the benefit of all parties involved," Mr Boseiwaqa said. "An officer has been appointed to look into the welfare of all affected families and so far he has visited more than 450 individuals.

"Only one asked for relocation by the end of last year and we are still working on some documentation and land issues before relocating the family.

"We are pleading with the affected families to support the government and the company's initiative to develop Vatukoula."

Mr Boseiwaqa said another challenge was identifying suitable land for relocation. "We are working on finding State land where they will be relocated.

"Some are also arranging their own relocation and we will work with them to be comfortable in their new homes." Mr Boseiwaqa said the government understood the workers were represented by a union.

"Those who don't belong to the union, the treatment will be same as those who are members of the union. We will treat everyone equally and all we need is their co-operation," he said.