Students’ hostel saga

Tui Magodro Ratu Simione Vutevute (sitting front) with Mata-ni-tikina Nadi Isaia Saukuru (left) Ratu Jone Naqiri (middle) and Sairusi Railou after the opening of Ba Provincial Council meeting at Viseisei village in Lautoka last week. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

FIFTEEN tertiary students from Ba Province were forced to find their own accommodation in Suva this year because the provincial council hostel was occupied by other people.

While making a presentation at a meeting of the Ba Provincial Council last week, a Adi Salusalu Ba Trust representative said the committee was trying to get the hostel returned to the trust.

She said the hostel in Samabula, Suva, was now occupied by two families.

“We served the two families notices to move out so we could get our students back in,” she said. “But at the moment they are refusing to move so we have taken them to court.”

She said in 2008, the council agreed to purchase the hostel with the assistance of the Ministry of iTaukei which gave $198,000. She said the trust had a second hostel at Domain in Suva through an MOU with the Public Service Commission.

“In June 2011 the Council opened a second hostel which we were able to acquire through the MOU, while the Samabula property remained empty until 2016 when two families moved in to rent the hostel.”

She said last year the students had to move out of the Domain property because of rent issues.

“Last December we were handed a notice from PSC to vacate the property because of arrears in the rent.

“We owe them $15,000 in rent, $10,000 in water bills and $800 for electricity. We had to move out after a notice for eviction was handed to us from PSC.

“But we couldn’t move back to Samabula because it was occupied. Last September we gave them a notice to move from our property. We raised $4000 this year with the intention to renovate the hostel before the students started the new year but we couldn’t do that.”

She said in January this year, resuming and new students had to be billeted in other places.

“Because the two families are refusing to move out of the property, our trust chairman (Minister for Fisheries Osea Naiqamu) agreed to let the students live at his home while they continued their studies.

“We are in the process of requesting Government for another place for the students to stay in while we work on taking back our Samabula hostel.”

According to the trust, nine students attend the University of the South Pacific while six were studying at the Fiji National University.

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