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Fiji Time: 6:44 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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861 homes and counting

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, April 18, 2013

A TOTAL of 861 houses have been built at Koroipita settlement in Lautoka as part of the Fiji Rotahomes project funded by Rotary clubs in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji, Habitat for Humanity, NZAID and the European Union.

Project manager Peter Drysdale said about 3600 people had been housed at the settlement.

"Five hundred of those people live at Koroipita Stage One," he said.

"We are now building another 147 houses in stage two. Of that, we have already built 76 houses. Last year we built 46 houses, this year we'll build 50 houses, so that will bring the housing stock to over 900.

"But Koroipita itself, by next year there'll be about 226 houses and by the time we add stage three, the housing stock at Koroipita will rise to 300 and the population will be about 1200. That is deemed to be the ideal slice to manage a town."

Mr Drysdale said if the figure gets any bigger "you will start to get problems like gangs and graffiti and all of that".

"So, we'll cap it around 300 because that number can be easily managed by a town council."

He said about 600 applications from families representing 3000 people have been received.

"If you're going to deal with the influx of people from the urban drift, then you need to be able to manage it.

"So, therefore, as fast as that sounds that we are building, it is just probably one third of the speed that is needed to stay up with influx of people.

"We say that the model town is documented very carefully so that it could be replicated. We want this town model to be an example for other town ideas because not only is the way we are building the houses a good model, it is also very affordable.

"The people who come here pay rent for the house for $1 a day or $7 a week."

Krishna Devi, a Koroipita resident of three years, said living at the settlement was a financial blessing for her and her son.

"We don't have to pay much. All we have to worry about is our $7 rent every week," she said.

Fellow resident Sowela Qionitoga lived with relatives before moving to Koroipita.

"We are blessed because most of us do not have proper jobs, so we are able to afford the rent and also live in a safe environment with other people who are in similar situations."