Company says villagers benefit from deal

Namosi Development Company Ltd manager Samisoni Tuilawaki in Navua. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Namosi Development Company Ltd (NDCL) constructed a $500,000 church at Nakavu Village in Namosi as a result of an agreement for All Earthworks Ltd to extract gravel from the Navua River.

In an interview last Saturday, company manager Samisoni Tuilawaki said people criticising gravel extraction activities by the Chinese-owned gravel company were not aware of the positive impact it had on the people of Namosi.

He said a three-year gravel extraction licence was given to the company in 2015 before it expired in 2017.

“The church will accommodate more than a 1000 people during a service, it’s one of the biggest in Fiji,” he said.

“We are at its final stages and once this is completed, we are looking at holding a crusade for the whole of the Namosi Province.

“We are even looking at hosting events such as the annual Methodist Church events like the Bose Ko Viti. This is what we gain from gravel extraction that is taking place in the Navua River so if people are against it then they should assist in the development of Namosi Province.”

Mr Tuilawaki said the NDCL was expecting to receive a new licence from the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources soon.

He said once they received the licence, they would continue with the contract established with All Earthworks Ltd.

Mr Tuilawaki, who is a former Roko Tui Namosi, said claims made by the owner of River Tubing Fiji, William Danford, on the environmental impact of gravel extraction in the Navua River was baseless.

“The difference between us is that what we are doing this to benefit the province of Namosi, but Danford is running a tourism business to benefit his own family.”

He said the NDCL was a financial arm of the Namosi Provincial Council.

“We are the one funding events like Namosi Day and provide scholarships for our children who are pursuing their studies overseas, including the maintenance of all properties like the Namosi House that is owned by the provincial council. This is why we need monetary-generating initiatives for funding.”

Mr Tuilawaki said they had met the new criteria set out by Government to secure a gravel extraction licence. The land where the gravel extraction would take place, he said, belonged to the landowning unit of the yavusa Nabukebuke in Nakavu Village.

“We are positive that we will be issued another gravel extraction licence by the end of this week.

“The villages located along the Navua River have agreed for gravel extraction to be carried out and it was presented by the respective district representatives of the province.”

All Earthworks Ltd managing director Peter Chen said his company consisted of 30 staff members and that they needed the licence to continue with gravel extraction in order to pay off their debts with a local bank which amounted to millions of dollars.

“We have stopped gravel extraction for the past three years after the licence expired and then Namosi Development Company Ltd is trying to apply for another licence — we are not sure how successful they are in this,” he said.

Questions sent to the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Malakai Finau on February 9 remained unanswered.

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