Lease money query

A LANDOWNING unit of the newly-constructed hydro on Taveuni has given Government until the end of this month to pay up outstanding premium.

The mataqali Valelevu of Nasarata Village in Somosomo (the descendants of Ratu Nemani Kavuru and Ratu Apenisa Ralulu) claim they have not been paid any premium or lease since giving their consent last year.

This landowning unit own the piece of land that has been given for the construction of the powerhouse.

Mataqali Valelevu spokeswoman Mereciba Wasawasa said they expected about $200,000 in payment.

She said two weeks ago, they gave the Government 24 hours but the office of the District Officer asked that they be given more time.

“We have been asking for the payment since then but the DO’s office in Taveuni kept telling us that it was all arranged and we will get the money,” Mrs Wasawasa said.

“Then we gave them 24 hours and they asked for two weeks and that has also ended so they have promised us end of this month.

“We will now wait and see and if nothing happens, then we will take our next course of action.

“What they don’t understand is that the piece of land is our reserved land where our families of about 80 members farmed and they depended on it for their livelihood.”

But for the sake of development, Mrs Wasawasa said they gave the piece of reserved land away.

“We are talking about a huge sacrifice from the landowners because one family can earn up to $10,000 in four to five years from yaqona farming.

“Compare that to the lease and premium money we will get, it is much less so we just hope Government can consider that and give us what is ours.

“We have also done up a new Memorandum of Understanding because we need to think of our future generation.”

Divisional Planning officer North Alipate Bolalevu attributed the delay to the processes involved in getting the payment organised.

“But they will be paid soon because the process of that is almost completed,” Mr Bolalevu said.

The landowners had also included the construction of seawall and river wall as part of the first MOU given to the iTaukei Lands Trust Board.

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