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Freesoul Real Estate trial

Freesoul Real Estate trial

By fijivillage
Friday 20/11/2020


Despite a letter from PS for Environment, Freesoul continued construction - Singh

By Iva Danford, Priteshni Nand
Thursday 03/12/2020
[Image: File photo]

The Director of Environment, Sandeep Singh who is the third prosecution witness in the trial of Freesoul Real Estate(Fiji) PTE Limited told the court that despite being instructed in a letter from the Permanent Secretary that they cannot continue any construction at the site, Freesoul continued to carry out the works.

Singh says they did not approve any foreshore development work for Freesoul on 24th December 2018.

She says only conditional land based construction was approved.

When questioned by DPP lawyer, Shelyn Kiran, Singh said the Permanent Secretary for Environment, Joshua Wycliffe along with the Director Lands and other stakeholders went to inspect the project site in 2018.

Singh says after the inspection, Wycliffe wrote a letter to the owner of Freesoul, Dickson Peng saying that they cannot continue any construction at the site as there was a prohibition notice in place and 20 of the 55 conditions under that conditional approval were not complied by them.

According to Singh, Wycliffe mentioned in the letter that workers could stay at the site as it was their land but did not allow any construction.

Singh told the court that she disagreed with the Permanent Secretary that workers be allowed to stay on the land while they carried out work on Solevu Village in Malolo.

She says despite the letter, Freesoul continued the construction on the site.

The trial continues before Suva Magistrate, Seini Puamau.

The charges against Freesoul relate to the failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by the Director of Environment in June 2018 and carrying out on resort development activity in Malolo without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

Under the Environment Management Act 2005, if convicted, the company and its directors face fines of up to $750,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.




I think the Environmental Impact Assessment report was overlooked - Singh

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 02/12/2020
Freesoul Real Estate is accused of illegally dredging 5000 m2 of reef without approval

The third state witness in the Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd trial told the court that she thinks the Environmental Impact Assessment report was overlooked by processing environmental officers and the committee that was appointed to review the EIA report.

The third state witness is Sandeep Singh who is the Director of Environment.

Singh told the court that she thinks the EIA was overlooked because when Freesoul submitted the screening application, it had only Wacia in Malolo but when the EIA was submitted by Freesoul consultants, it also included Qalilawa in Malolo.

She says the landowning unit only gave consent for Wacia.

When questioned on why the prohibition notice did not cover the second area which is Qalilawa, Singh says everything had Wacia and there was no application made to even amend the screening application to include Qalilawa.

When questioned by Magistrate Puamau, Singh says she came to know about Qalilawa when they were amending the charges for Freesoul.

Singh says that Qalilawa was under Natadola Investment and later transferred to Dickson International of Freesoul.

She says on the 24th of December 2018, they issued a conditional EIA approval. Singh says they then found out that 20 of the 55 conditions under that approval was not complied with by Freesoul. She says they gave another prohibition notice in April 2019.

Singh says as of today, Freesoul does not have any approval to continue resort development works at Malolo.

The trial continues before Suva Magistrate, Seini Puamau.

The charges against Freesoul relate to the failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by the Director of Environment in June 2018 and carrying out of resort development activity in Malolo without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

Under the Environment Management Act 2005, if convicted, the company and its directors face fines of up to $750,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.





Second state witness in Freesoul trial says she saw construction of temporary quarters after Prohibition Notice was issued

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 20/11/2020
Principal Environment Officer Senivasa Waqairamasi (yellow) and Director Environment Sandeep Singh.

The second state witness in the Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd trial has told the court today that after the Prohibition Notice was issued on June 2018, a site inspection was conducted in August where she saw construction of the temporary staff quarters at the proposed resort site in Malolo.

Principal Environment Officer, Senivasa Waqairamasi told the court that an inspection of the site was conducted on 11th August, 2018 to confirm that the development was taking place at the site.

She said she also saw a untarsealed road, a hill being cut, impact of erosion and sediments and earth dug drains.

Waqairamasi also said that she expected the site to be in its natural state according to the scoping inspection in 2017.

She said she expected to see some development but not to the extent where she did not expect to see vehicle tracks and staff quarters.

The witness also said that she saw dead mangroves that died because of build up sediments. She said mangroves are sensitive and do not die naturally.

She also told the court she once again visited the site on the 15th of September, 2018 to confirm that construction material was offloaded on the site and development continued after concerns were raised.

She said she saw movement of forklift carrying construction material to a storage site built in front of the mangroves.

Waqairamasi also said she counted 6 workers transporting the material.

The witness also confirmed to the court that 2 police officers were also deployed to the island after 11th August however, they were not at the site on that day.

She said that upon contacting the Divisional Police Commander, she was informed that the officers had gone home for the weekend.

Waqairamasi also said in her report that the presence of police officers is not sufficient to oversee that any development does not take place on the site.

The trial will continue on the 30th of November.



Tokalau confirms she was not aware of any email sent by the Director of Lands to the Director of Freesoul

By Iva Danford
Friday 20/11/2020

The first state witness in the Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd trial has confirmed in court today that she was not aware of an email sent by the Director of Lands to the Director of Freesoul approving the company to offload their material on the development site.

Kelera Tokalau confirmed this during cross examination by defence lawyer, David Toganivalu.

When questioned if the offloading of material was development activity, Tokalau says it was not.

Magistrate Seini Puamau also told the defence and state lawyers that they should start to determine if sections 21 and 43 of the Environmental Act are offences of strict liability and if the prohibition notices issued pursuant to section 21 applies to facilities only, and if its the case, were the sites in question a facility and if so, how.

The trial continues before Suva Magistrate, Seini Puamau.

The charges against Freesoul relate to the failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by the Director of Environment in June 2018 and carrying out of resort development activity in Malolo without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

Under the Environment Management Act 2005, if convicted, the company and its directors face fines of up to $750,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.



Development works done by Freesoul in Malolo was deemed illegal in June 2018 – Tokalau

By Iva Danford
Thursday 19/11/2020
Kelera Tokalau is the first state witness in the trial of Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd.

The first state witness in the trial of Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd has told the Suva Magistrates Court today that development works conducted by the company in Malolo was deemed illegal and a prohibition notice was issued after their second site visit in June 2018.

The first state witness is Kelera Tokalau who is an Environmental Officer.

When questioned by state lawyer, Sherlyn Kiran, Tokalau told the court that she first visited the site in Malolo on 1st August 2017 and there was no development work done at that time.

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A huge channel had been dug through the reef for barge access [Photo: Facebook]

Tokalau says they had to visit the site in order to issue a Terms of Reference.

The witness says she had worked on the report which contained the date, location and the findings of her assessment.

Tokalau also told the court that she then prepared the Terms of Reference which was approved by the Director of Environment.

She says in 2018, they received information that work had commenced at the site and an inspection was needed.

Tokalau says as they approached the site, she saw an excavated channel and the mangroves were disturbed in this process when these materials were piled up at the foreshore.

Tokalau says they also saw machinery and trucks at the site and a access road, staff quarters and other small buildings were constructed.

She then told the court the development work was deemed illegal because the Environmental Impact Assessment had not been approved at that point in time.

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Freesoul Real Estate is accused of illegally dredging 5000 m2 of reef without approval [Photo: Facebook]

Tokalau says her recommendation after the visit was that a prohibition notice should be issued and the notice was then approved by the Director of Environment and emailed from their Suva office to her, and she forwarded it to Anasa Tawake of Freesoul.

Tokalau confirmed in court that Tawake had acknowledged receiving the prohibition notice.

Tokalau says it was explained to the developers to stop work until the EIA is approved and they must quickly complete the EIA process.

She says they were advised, as part of the prohibition notice to revive the foreshore.

Tokalau confirmed in court during cross examination by defence lawyer, David Toganivalu that the Department of Environment was made aware through the screening application that excavation and dredging would happen at the site.

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She also says that the department was made aware that a channel would also be made.

Toganivalu also told the court that according to the lease agreement with the landowners, the developers would also be building 10 homes for families in Solevu Village on Malolo Island.

He also proposed to Tokalau that the material was for construction in the village to which she responded that the village is on the other side of the island and they could have had it closer to the village.

The trial continues before Suva Magistrate, Seini Puamau.

The charges against Freesoul relate to the failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by the Director of Environment in June 2018 and carrying out of resort development activity in Malolo without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

Under the Environment Management Act 2005, if convicted, the company and its directors face fines of up to $750,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.




Frank Hilton Organisation aims to raise $300,000 through virtual wheelbarrow race this year

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 18/11/2020
CEO, Sureni Perara

For the first time in four years, the Frank Hilton Organisation will be hosting its Wheelbarrow Race virtually aiming to raise $300,000 for its operation.

A person or team of 8 people that want to be part of the race will have to download an app named “Amazing Wheelbarrow Race” and register.

CEO, Sureni Perara says teams or a person participating will have to complete a 480km race around Viti Levu in 8 days and raise $4,800.

She says each day a team or person participating will have to complete 60km race and raise $600.

However, Perara says the winner will be the person or team that collects the most “Bara Buks” which is the extra funds apart from $4,800.

She says the beauty of the game is that it doesn’t limit the number of participants and anyone from anywhere in the world can participate.

The CEO says 30% of their funds come from fundraising and they receive 70% of the funds which is $850,000 from the government.

She has confirmed there is a reduction in the funds they receive from government this year due to COVID-19 but they have not compromised any of their services. Perara says the funds raised will be directed to the operations of the Hilton Home and Hilton Outpatients Division.

She says some teams that have confirmed they will be taking part is Vodafone, TFL and Harcourts.

The race starts on the 4th of December and ends on the 11th.



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