Look Back: Angry landowners block cane railway
5 July, 2020, 7:15 pm
Fijian landowners blocked the new Labasa-Tabia railway with rocks and tree trunks because of a dispute over a delay in “goodwill” payments.
The angry villagers claimed the Native Land Trust Board promised them $6000 after they gave their consent for the construction of the new nine-mile railway linking Labasa with the new Seaqaqa sugar cane district.
The men held up a Fiji Sugar Corporation diesel locomotive sent to pick up about 50 loaded trucks of harvested cane to transport to the Labasa Sugar Mill.
Police intervened and persuaded the landowners to remove the blockade.
The first sugar train to the mill got through at about 4pm yesterday.
A spokesman for the landowners, Letia Sadrumu, told The Fiji Times that the NLTB had said it would pay the goodwill money, but did fail to fulfil its promise.
“In May a delegation from the nine mataqali met the NLTB manager in Labasa, Nimia Drauna, who promised us we would be paid at the end of June,” Mr Sadrumu said.
“We did not receive the money as promised.”
Mr Sadrumu said the landowners agreed to clear the line only after assurances from authorities that they would finally receive their money as previously told.