SUNBIZ

Government Working On Rest Facilities For Labasa Cane Lorry Drivers

Sugar industry stakeholders have begun exploring avenues to providing resting facilities for Labasa sugarcane lorry drivers near the FSC Labasa Mill. A request had been made earlier to the Attorney-General
17 Oct 2015 10:15
Government Working On Rest Facilities For Labasa Cane Lorry Drivers
Sugarcane lorry drivers lined up with their loads of cane as they await infront of Fiji Sugar Corporation Labasa mill.

Sugar industry stakeholders have begun exploring avenues to providing resting facilities for Labasa sugarcane lorry drivers near the FSC Labasa Mill.
A request had been made earlier to the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, for the resting facilities.
Sugar acting Permanent Secretary Viliame Gucake said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum informed him on August 31 to look into this immediately after his visit to Labasa in August.
“Mr Sayed-Khaiyum witnessed the long queue and he found out that about 90 per cent of the lorry drivers were sugarcane farmers,” Mr Gucake said.
“Drivers told him that there was no ablution block, no toilet facilities and no resting place.
“I raised this concern to the FSC Labasa mill General Manager Karia Christopher and he pointed out there was space available in front of Valebasoga Tropik Board (VTL) and Fiji National University (FNU) Labasa campus.”
Mr Gucake said FSC has cut down the vaivai trees and the land is cleared.
“However, the Ministry of Lands has raised concern that the spot cleared was a very narrow strip and there are likely chances of FNU students involved in accidents since it is in front of the campus,” he said.
“The plan for resting facilities has been made and work has begun and may be in few months construction of the most needed facility will be carried out,” Mr Gucake said

The situation
Mohammed Yusuf, a sugarcane farmer and lorry driver of Tuatua, Labasa confirmed that he, along with 10 more lorry drivers, raised the above concern to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
This was when Mr Sayed-Khaiyum paid them a surprise visit in August after the National Budget consultations meeting in Labasa.
“We wait in the queue long hours and the one time meal we bring from home finishes,” Mr Yusuf said.
“I cannot expect my family to drive during the night to bring food for me and neither can I drive back home with my load of cane.”
Sanjay Prasad, a cane lorry driver of Nabekavu, outside Labasa Town said lack of water and sanitation was another concern.
Bhupendra Prasad, also a cane lorry driver of Seaqaqa in Macuata, said the lorry drivers for more than a decade had written numerous letters to consider their plight.
“The last letter I wrote to Ministry of Sugar was on July 29 this year,” Mr Prasad said.
“I requested them to look into our grievances that are associated with the transporting of sugar cane to the mill.
“The health risk and the loss of productive work time is a major concern to us.
“Every day with our cane loaded lorries, we have to join a two kilometre long queue near the mill and wait for 15 hours to unload the cane at the mill.
“We are thankful that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum took immediate action and we now have hope that something will be done.”

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