MINISTER COMMISSIONS STREET LIGHTS AT VEIVAUCEVA SETTLEMENT

16/10/2020

The Minister for Housing and Community Development Hon. Premila Kumar earlier in the week, commissioned the street lights at Veivauceva settlement in Tacirua, Suva.
 
Whilst commissioning the street lights, the Minister said that the community had requested for the lights when she visited them previously.
 
“The community discussed this in one of our previous community meetings and highlighted the risk of robbery and other illegal activities and requested the Ministry of Housing and Community Development (Ministry) to consider commissioning two street lights,” said Hon. Kumar.
 
The Minister added that more than 50 households will benefit from the new street lights.
 
“The access roads within informal settlements are not under the Fiji Roads Authority management and hence these communities do not have access to facilities such as street lights in most cases. With the street lights now connected to the main grid, more than 50 households are expected to benefit from the installation. This will also see a decrease in other illegal activities in the area,” Hon. Kumar stated.
 
The Minister also added that when the Ministry acquires a development lease, it also pays for the lease money upfront to the land owners so that the settlers do not have to pay any land rent during the lease term. In addition to this benefit, the Ministry also facilitates temporary infrastructure development in these settlements, as part of the community development work.
 
The process of formalizing an informal settlement which has a few stages involved, takes a while to complete. The stages are the planning, construction and allotment phases.
 
The planning stage includes the development of a suitable scheme plan for the settlement which also includes topography and geo-technical surveys followed by an Environment Impact Assessment or EIA. The planning stage is followed by having the engineering drawings and approvals by the different stakeholders such as the Ministry of Waterways, Fiji Roads Authority, Water Authority of Fiji and Energy Fiji Limited and Department of Town and Country Planning.
 
The planning stage is then followed by the construction stage which includes the Tender process. The construction stage can take anywhere between 18 to 24 months and it is during this time that members of the community need to work with the Ministry and contractor to ensure minimum obstructions to the works so that works can complete within the time period. 
 
“There are over 250 informal settlements in the country and the Ministry has development lease for only 44 of these. A total of 40 out of these are on iTaukei land and the rest are state land. Until these settlements reach the capital works stage there may be need for temporary upgrades such as installation of street lights, repair of culverts and crossing to name a few. These temporary solutions are only put in place, until a permanent solution for upgrading work is done to a particular settlement,” said Hon. Kumar.
 
The Ministry of Housing and Community Development has a budget allocation set aside to address urgent issues requested by the informal settlements within the development leases. In addition to the commissioning of street lights in Veivauceva and Sakoca, the Ministry has also fixed one culvert crossing in Sasawira settlement.