‘More moving to towns’

Sudhakar. Picture: FILE

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Ashneel Sudhakar. Picture: FILE

THE Lands Department is looking at providing a solution to utilising abandoned homes and farms in rural areas.

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Ashneel Sudhakar said urbanisation had resulted in the mass migration of rural dwellers to urban centres, creating overcrowded informal settlements.

“One major issue is urbanisation — when we look at places like Tavua, Rakiraki, Ba and certain areas in Labasa, there is an obvious decrease in their population,” he said.

“More people are moving to urban centres and because people are moving away from their houses, there is very little demand for land in these rural places.

“This is where my ministry comes in and it is something we are trying to address.

“We have seen that you can have a whole house with a rent of $350 in these rural places but nobody wants to move there.

“Entire houses are left empty and farms are left overgrown because people have just basically neglected their farms or deserted them.”

He said the situation in heavily populated urban centres told a different story.

“Then we have places like Nadi and Suva where home rent is so expensive with land so very small but people still buy it because of the huge demand.

“There is a human imbalance there. These are some of the discussions that we’ve had about housing, about the occupying of empty land and about decentralising services in rural areas where there is a need for people to return to.

“We do not want a situation where we have people in the city not doing anything.

“They don’t have jobs, they don’t have a lot of opportunities making them more prone or being exposed to criminal activities.”

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