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Hardware Firms Assure Supplies

Hardware Firms Assure Supplies
A woman and her son at the remains of their home in February days after Cyclone Winston hit. Photo: Reuters
August 05
10:57 2016

Hardware companies supplying building material for Government’s Help for Home Initiative have assured they will meet the unprecedented high demand.

Vinod Patel & Co. Limited said in a statement that despite the pressures of getting overseas supplies “we have been delivering goods to the vast majority of the people.”

R.C. Manubhai Group of Companies director Bhavesh Kumar said while suppliers and manufacturers were stretched to the limit: “We understand the plight of the affected people and wish to assure everyone that we are fully committed towards a successful delivery of this Help for Homes Initiative in the shortest timeframe possible.”

They were responding to a Fiji Times report that some Ra villagers had complained about the delay in getting building material.

The Vinod Patel statement said many of their hardware items were imported and the normal delivery time could be as much as three to five months.

It said: “In terms of local suppliers and manufacturers, they too are dependent on raw materials from overseas.

“The lead time for these raw materials can range between three to five months.  All these factors put a lot of pressure on our ability to

service, but in spite of this we have been delivering goods to the vast majority of the people.”

It revealed the sudden peak in demand/supply to many other customers and businesses than the HFHI customers had placed an unprecedented level of demand in their logistics and supply chain.

It also revealed that Vinod Patel was continually importing timber to cater for the lack of timber supply from local suppliers.

“Our procurement team is regularly meeting the local suppliers to fulfil the demand for materials.

“We have also recruited an additional 70 to 100 staff to assist in the delivery and service the HFHI customers.”

Vinod Patel is currently using its major branches at Centerpoint, Lautoka, Nadi and Ba to cater for the large number of HFHI customer deliveries in Rakiraki and other areas.

“We are working around the clock and have spent hundreds of thousands  in overtime costs and meal money to provide much needed on-time service to HFHI customers.

“We are doing deliveries seven days a week to ensure that customers are able to get their materials within acceptable time frame,

“We have increased our fleet and invested around $1.5 million in new delivery trucks so that service can be provided to customers.”

Mr Kumar said: “This was the first time that the local hardware and building materials sector has had to deal with such high demand and pressure.

“When one looks at key building materials manufactured locally – timber, cement, blocks and roofing iron, all manufacturers have been stretched to the limit.

“The effect of the cyclone on the local timber industry has meant that the hardware dealers have had to import timber under import duty concessions offered by the Government,” he said.

Mr Kumar said they were using their existing and additional resources at great expense to supply the required materials.

“Our company has been very honest and upfront with all our M-Paisa customers regarding the availability and delivery situation of required building materials and have also been in close contact with the Ministry of Economy in updating them of the progress we have been making in meeting the expectations of all those affected by the cyclone,” he said.

“We understand the plight of the affected people and wish to assure everyone that we are fully committed towards a successful delivery of this Help for Homes Initiative in the shortest timeframe possible.”


Claims refuted

The two hardware companies have also strongly refuted claims in an article published in the Fiji Times regarding the supply of building materials.

The article titled “Still waiting” and published on August 3 had highlighted the plight of some villagers from several villages in Ra stating the delay in building supplies from hardware stores.

It also stated that the Fiji Times had sought questions from hardware stores that were identified by villagers remained unanswered.

The Vinod Patel statement, said it was irresponsible of the Fiji Times to seek comments from them after publishing the article which was based on feedback from only one group.

“It is biased, unprofessional and unethical. Fiji Times only approached us via an email around 11.30 am on  August 3 for comments.

“This hardly helps our situation as this irresponsible act have already fuelled and created a negative perception about our company and the hardware industry,” the statement said.

It had also revealed that Vinod Patel had sent a statement on July 13 to the Fiji Times giving their assurance that they had taken measures and invested significantly to ensure that beneficiaries of HFHI received materials as quickly as possible.

Mr Kumar said The Fiji Times had shown extreme irresponsibility in trying to stir up emotions among the people of Fiji by writing a one-sided article without a response from the company.

“The comment by the reporter that questions sent to the hardware stores last week remained unanswered is grossly false and misleading as our company was never approached by anyone in Fiji Times regarding this matter.

“It’s been typical of Fiji Times to “shoot first and ask questions later” and this is demonstrated by the fact that the reporter sent an email to one of directors only yesterday (August 3) requesting our response after the article had been published in the papers,” he said.

Mr Kumar said Government should be applauded for taking on the “Help for Home Initiative” to help people rebuild their homes and lives after Cyclone Winston.

“The massive $80million initiative undertaken by the Government reflects not only the extent of the devastation caused by the cyclone but also the resultant pressure that was going to be put on all the hardware suppliers to meet the demands of this programme,” he said.

“At such a time, the Government and the country need organisations and the people of Fiji to join hands in the rebuilding process.

“Unfortunately, biased reports do not help anyone in trying to make ends meet in such difficult situations and it is hoped that Fiji Times will prove itself to be a more responsible corporate citizen of this country in future through factual and fair reporting.”

Fred Wesley, the Fiji Times editor-in-chief, said the comments by the companies were noted.

He said the Fiji Times emailed questions to the companies mentioned by the villagers.

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki



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