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Fiji Time: 4:26 PM on Wednesday 16 April

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Army provides muscle

Monday, March 12, 2007

THE military was called in to provide security as Public Works Department workers tore down the fences of Nivis Motors in Nabua yesterday.

Nivis Motors' legal representative Sherani and Company said in a letter to the Acting Solicitor General, Luke Daunivalu that the action taken by the Minister for Transport and Roads Manu Korovulavula was a show of disrespect for the court process and the rule of law.

"This is a very sad day when military assistance is sought in civil cases especially where the decision of the Highest Court of the land is pending.

"This sort of use of force does not augur well in a civilised society and is yet another example of abuse and we will have to bring this to the attention of the Supreme Court," the letter said.

The letter also highlighted that the Solicitor-General's office had informed the Deputy Secretary of Works on the position of the court.

"Despite this the PWD has with the assistance of military started removing the fence," the letter said.

Mr Korovulavula said Nivis Motors had applied for a stay order from the Supreme Court but this would be decided on Tuesday.

"That simply means that we can still go ahead with our work without any interference to the law," Mr Korovulavula said.

"What we are doing is legally right," he said.

Mr Korovulavula said nothing was going to stop the ministry from carrying out their duty to the travelling public.

A legal expert said PWD was allowed to take down the fence before the stay order was granted.

"However, it would depend on what transpired in court last Friday. If the judge had told the government lawyers to wait until a decision is made on the stay application, than it is a very serious matter," the lawyer said.

Nivis Motors managing director Nirmal Singh said the work by the PWD affected the company's 450 metre display area.

"I was really upset because talks were underway to follow other possible plans," Mr Singh said.

"We had been engaging in talks with government to decrease the size of the roundabout and I am surprised that this has taken place, especially when they had used the military," he said. Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the military was only there to provide to security.

"We were asked to provide security while the workers are doing their job and that is exactly what we are doing," he said.

PWD workers took down the fence after Mr Korovulavula decided to have the roundabout widened in an effort to ease the traffic congestion during peak hours on the Suva-Nausori corridor.

Nivis Motors is located next to the roundabout.