The Fijian Government remains committed to address urbanization and its challenges through integrated planning, strengthening urban governance, balancing rural urban developments and scrapping rural local authorities.
This was highlighted by the Minister for Local Government and Urban Development Premila Kumar while addressing the 5th Pacific Urban Forum, in Nadi, today.
She said adopting a multi-sectoral planning and implementation at all levels is important in order to manage rapid urban growth.
She also said without long-term Urban Master Plans (UMP), Fiji will continue to have a piecemeal approach an approach that does not match the National Development Goals and the dreams of Fijian people.
She added that the Fijian Government is working closely with Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) to create the urban Master Plans for Fiji, to guide the urban transformation. SCE also worked with New Zealand to create their UMP.
The UMP would provide a road map for all future development decisions in the cities and towns to guide, and coordinate the various government agencies and Fiji’s 13 municipal councils in carrying out development works covering highways and expressways; bridges and ports; parks and gardens, markets, civic services, bus stands and sporting facilities.
Kumar said in the tandem plan, thorough study will also be carried out on the location of existing forests, nature reserves, rivers, lakes and other significant water bodies to be preserved, to ensure the new urban environment is sustainable and livable.
The Fijian Government has seen it important to drive its Urban Agenda-Urban planning and management should go beyond urban boundaries to improve rural-urban connectivity. Part of the reforms have seen municipal councils taking over rural areas with an aim to promote spatial planning. This, in turn, will support connectivity to central business districts and address smartly the urban sprawl,” she said.
The Fijian Government is also injecting funds in the development of upcoming satellite centers in rural areas under a special scheme known as new town developments with the aim to promote equal growth opportunities across rural areas to reduce the rural urban drift.
Government also declared tax-free zones in rural areas to attract investors.