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Interest For Big Suva Plaza Growing: Wu

Interest For Big Suva Plaza Growing: Wu
WG Friendship Plaza vice-general manager and WG International spokesperson William Wu in front of a model of the building. Photo: Sheldon Chanel
July 28
11:00 2018

Construction has progressed on the 28-storey WG Friendship Plaza on McGregor Road, Suva since its ground­breaking last year, and its developers expect to start leasing soon.

The project is owned by a locally registered Chinese company, WG International Real Es­tate Co. Limited.

Encouraged by China’s One Belt, One Road strategy, the project is WG International’s first investment in the Pacific Islands

The company says any future develop­ments in the region depend on the Suva project’s success, with plans also in place to make Fiji its headquarters in the Pacific.

This despite the unique challenges they have faced in the country.

Project vice-general manager and company spokesperson William Wu says they are run­ning almost $10-20m over-budget.

“We had planned for a total cost of around $160m. However at this stage, because of the challenges in Fiji, we may be over-budgeted by $10-20m,” Mr Wu said.

But Mr Wu says he is optimistic the plaza can be a real success.

“At the moment we are looking at interest­ed parties only, so we are not looking to sell yet,” he said.

“We have had close to 100 people register­ing their interest. Some want to buy, some want to rent. In the future, when we prepare our legal documents, then we will finalise our clients.”

The 28-storey building is going to feature premium apartment blocks, office spaces and a luxury hotel.

“The steel structure will be completed by the end of this year. We want to complete the building by next year but that too depends on any hurdles we come across.”

Mr Wu has denied some reports that WG was planning to reduce the number of floors in the building from 28 to 15.

“These are rumours only. We are sticking to 28 storeys,” he said.

The project remains an active construction site.

Fresh coats of paint are going up; plastic tarps have been draped over windows; and plenty of debris can be seen on the site from all of the work on the building.

But the developers say many challenges still remain.

“The biggest challenge for us is that this building is the first of its kind in Fiji,” Mr Wu said.

“We are asking for the support of all Gov­ernment departments and authorities in Fiji as some have not been ready to help,” Mr Wu said.

“Another challenge has been adapting to the culture here. We have been here for just one year and communication remains a signifi­cant barrier for us.”

The developers import most of the materials used for construction from China.

Mr Wu says local companies have not been able to meet their demands, especially with large steel frame.

“We also import most of our materials from China because the local companies cannot meet our supply demands,” Mr Wu said.

“We want to buy local but they cannot supply. Some things we do buy locally but when they cannot provide we go overseas.

“We also get people from overseas for most skilled jobs because locals aren’t trained to operate some of equipment we have.”

The quality of structural steel frames im­ported from China was put under the spot­light at the recent Construction Industry Council conference.

Civil engineer and director for Erasito Con­sultants Limited and Erasito Beca Consult­ants Limited Terrence Erasito suggested they were unsafe and did not meet ductility requirements.

But Mr Wu insists the steel used in the plaza is of international standards.

Looking ahead, the company says they see a lot of potential in Fiji’s market.

They have employed around 20 temporary and local staff at their office in Nasese, Suva.

Mr Wu says the plaza will not only create over 200 local jobs, but will also attract more Chinese investors to Fiji.

“We want to put our project in the market as soon as possible. The country will benefit from projects such as this.”

sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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