NATION

Penang Can Be Repaired For $2m

  A former engineer with the Fiji Sugar Corporation says the Penang Mill can be repaired at around $2 million cost. Jone Ciri, now retired and a spokesperson for the
30 Jun 2016 12:41
Penang Can Be Repaired For $2m
Jone Ciri giving his submissions at the consultations in Rakiraki. Photo: Charles Chambers

 

A former engineer with the Fiji Sugar Corporation says the Penang Mill can be repaired at around $2 million cost.

Jone Ciri, now retired and a spokesperson for the National Farmers Union, was responding to a question from Standing Committee on Economic Affairs member Prem Singh over what he thought it would cost to bring the mill back into shape.

The committee was conducting consultations on the Reform of Sugar Cane Industry Bill, 2016 (Bill No. 19 of 2016) and the Sugar Cane Growers Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016 (Bill No. 20 of 2016) in Rakiraki yesterday.

“I am hearing that it would cost around $2million to repair the mill,” Mr Ciri said.

Mr Singh said he had heard even before Cyclone Winston that Penang Mill would be closed down.

Mr Ciri said little upgrade had been done to Penang Mill over the years.

“We lose more sugar here at Penang than any other mill.”

Mr Ciri said a recommended amount of tonnage for Penang Mill to remain viable would be between 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes of sugar cane per season.

He said the mill could be repaired and have it operational by 2017.

“If we turn this mill into a syrup mill that is being suggested by FSC, then the problems and issues will worsen,” Mr Ciri said.

He said the present arrangement to cart all sugar cane from Rakiraki to Rarawai Mill in Ba will cause problems next year if the crop is bigger. Government has agreed to subsidise the transportation of cane from Rakiraki to Ba after the closure of the Penang Mill from damage sustained through Cyclone Winston.

This year, because of the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston, the amount of cane to be harvested has dropped significantly.

However with a bumper crop expected for next season, Mr Ciri said problems on obtaining quotas by Rakiraki farmers would be one of the biggest issues.

Mr Ciri said if the new Bills were made to “salvage FSC, then this will not help anyone.”

“FSC wants to diversify but they cannot do this if they don’t have the main ingredient and that is sugar cane.

“Even their plans to start co-generation and supply electricity to the main grid will not happen if they don’t have enough sugar cane.”

Mr Ciri said FSC’s executive chairman Abdul Khan needed to come to Rakiraki and sit and answer the farmers’ questions.

Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 

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