III. EXISTING INSTITUTIONS AND MEASURES FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING FOR SUVA CITY
C. Environmental administration in Suva
2. Environmental planning
The Suva City area was declared a town planning area 50 years ago. The first town planning scheme for Suva City was approved by DTCP in 1954, and since then it has been continually revised and updated to keep pace with the changing patterns of development.
The principal feature of physical planning in Fiji is the application of zoning as a technique to pre-empt the future use of land, and to help achieve social and environmental objectives. Thus the plans for Suva City and Greater Suva area make provisions for the separation of land uses into zones, taking into account factors concerned with topography, existing land use, infrastructure and environmental factors. The development in each land-use zone is subject to certain regulations concerning the minimum lot area of new subdivisions, permitted building floor space area (which is constrained by the method of sewage disposal), available building set-back from the road and parking requirements. There are three broad zones:
That planning system has enabled the private and public sectors to coordinate their activities to accommodate, to some extent, the pace of urban growth. According to the report on the Population Census of 1986, about 60 per cent of the households in Suva live in single-unit dwellings, 30 per cent in flats and 10 per cent in temporary structures. Clean piped water is available to 94.5 per cent of the households, with 74 per cent also having flush-water toilets. Electricity supply is available to 74 per cent of the households. Similar data are not yet available from the 1996 Census. It is known that a significant increase has occurred in squatter housing over the last decade. An aerial photography survey conducted in 1996 indicated at 20 per cent of urban households in Fiji lived in informal housing (Walsh, 1996). With an urban household having an average of five members, that would mean approximately 71,000 people or 23 per cent of the Fiji urban population live in accommodation associated with poverty. Better light will be shed on the current situation when the full data from the 1996 census are published.
With regard to the distribution of land use, the conception seems to persist that only flat land is suitable for industrial activity, leaving residential uses to penetrate topographical constraints. Thus industrial activities have initially been concentrated in three industrial estates around the Suva harbour peninsula at Walu Bay, Wailada and Vatuwaqa. Another area which is zoned for heavy industry is where the cement factory is located at Lami, outside the Greater Suva boundary. But industries have not moved there because of topographical constraints.
The Greater Suva Urban Structure Plan highlights the need to encourage the development of a number of commercial centres and industrial estates in order to decentralize activities from the Suva harbour peninsula where traffic movements tend to concentrate. In order to take employment opportunities close to where people live, the plan identifies key areas where such decentralization should take place. On the basis of the Greater Suva Structure Plan, in 1979 SCC refused an application by the Director of Lands to extend the Walu Bay industrial estate by reclaiming a further 14 ha of industrial land, on the grounds that it would intensify considerably the traffic congestion in the market, bus terminal, wharf and central commercial business area. SCC further argued that the proposal was totally contrary to the objectives and development concepts of the Plan. As a result, the Director of Lands developed the Kalabu industrial estate in 1980. Two other industrial estates identified in the plan were developed in 1976, at Laucala Beach Estate and Raiwaqa. All the industrial estates are located on flat land close to major residential areas and are now extensively in operation.
Currently, the broad framework for development planning, in theory at least, is established by National Economic Summits which bring to together political, business, trade union and community leaders to derive a consensus for future development policies and strategies. Environmental interests are not specifically represented at the meetings, which draw up general development strategies. The intention was to hold the Summits annually; however, the most recent was held in 1994. Thus these arrangements are far from institutionalized, and in recent years planning and policy formulation has been more ad hoc in nature and has dominated the short-term concerns of government.
The policy guidelines that were established at the last Economic Summit are compiled in a document entitled "Opportunities for growth". While the majority of the document deals with essential economic and social policies and strategies, chapter 11 contains the current statement on national policies and strategies that relate to the environment and sustainable development. Those broad environmental policies include:
With respect to land degradation, the policy statement includes the application of monitoring and management measures through all agencies dealing with land and agricultural development. On the other hand, the policy and strategy statements on the urban environmental problems of waste disposal and pollution focus on strengthening legislation and taxation measures, specifically stating that:
Unfortunately those national environmental policies have, as yet, no basis for practical application. They appear to have been adopted on an ad hoc basis instead of through careful cross-sectoral appraisal. The result to date has been one of limited implementation.