Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday made a visit to two cane harvesting gangs and the Rarawai Mill in Ba. On his return, he gave a thumbs up because he
09 Aug 2017 11:11
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on top of a truck checking sugar cane harvested by a nechancial harvester in Moronubu, Ba yesterday


Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday made a visit to two cane harvesting gangs and the Rarawai Mill in Ba.

On his return, he gave a thumbs up because he was happy with what he saw.

In fact, he said he was satisfied with the performance of all sections of the sugar industry, adding that politics was slowly being rejected by farmers.

Mr Bainimarama said he could not be more than happy with the performance of all the three Western Division sugar mills.

Earlier in the day he visited two harvesting gangs, at the Koronubu area in Ba.

He surprised everyone when he climbed up the side ladder of the truck to check how a mechanical harvester worked.

“I thought all the rubbish went in with the harvested cane but it is clean,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“I was amazed at how it worked and for me it was the first time,” he said.

Koronubu Sugar tractor trainer Gang Sirdar Ravindra Mani told Mr Bainimarama that before the mechanical harvesters were brought in, they harvested cane manually.

“Now we can fill five to six trucks a day,” Mr Mani said.

“Thank you Prime Minister for visiting us farmers and thank you for all the assistance your Government has given us,” he said.

Mr Mani said six farmers in the area usually collectively yield around 1200 tonnes but now with the mechanical harvester they would achieve 1600 tonnes per season.

Mr Bainimarama then visited another sector in the Koronubu cane area where a gang was harvesting manually. They thanked him for all he had done in the sugar industry.

Mr Bainimarama later told Fiji Sun that cane farmers were now conscious of what was being done for them and politics was slowly being taken out of the cane fields.

“There are still some of them going around the back trying to influence farmers but from what I have heard over these past two days, politics is what they did not want to see,” he said.

“They are now reaping the benefits and with that the mill is performing as equally as good so I am happy with the sugar industry and how it has moved forward.”

Fiji Sugar Corporation acting chief executive officer and chief operating officer Navin Chandra said Rarawai Mill had crushed 244,408 tonnes of cane as at yesterday, or 33 per cent of the national volume, against 131,271 tonnes for the same period last year.

Labasa Mill has crushed 40 per cent of the national volume while Lautoka makes up the remaining 25 per cent.

“Rarawai’s crushing performance against budget is the best in the country with only five per cent off the target quantity that should have been crushed now,” Mr Chandra said.

TCTS (tonnes of cane per tonne of sugar) for Rarawai Mill is 9.4 as at 13 in 2016 with Lautoka having the lowest so far with 9.34.

Mr Chandra said Rarawai had a significant turnaround in operations with reduced lost time associated with breakdowns with 19 hours accounted for in a week out of total of 168 operating hours this year, as against close to 40 hours in 2016 and 23 hours per week in 2015.

“The good performance of the mill is attributed to a better focus in the slack season on maintenance and great leadership by new general manager, Taito Kafoa an engineer by profession,” he said.

“This year also marks the lowest stoppages to the Rarawai Mill due to low supply of cane at 9.4 hours lost weekly compared to 36 hours lost per week in 2016 and 15.4 hours lost per week in 2015.

“The initiative taken by management to transfer some Ba district cane to Lautoka Mill and then provide quicker turnaround to trucks in Rarawai especially those trucks coming from Penang Mill has helped as well.”

Mr Chandra said the crushing rate was now consistently sitting over 240 tonnes of cane per hour versus low 200s in 2016 and 2015.

“At 83 per cent operational efficiency, the mill is destined to be a world class operation, after some strategic investments are completed in the next couple of years,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama says pay rise in the sugar mills will wait for structural review.

He was responding to a worker who wanted a pay rise during a talanoa session at Rarawai mill yesterday.

Meanwhile in another talanoa session at Vatulaulau Sanatan Dharam School in Ba, Mr Bainimarama said he did not want to see Government money being used to build temples or churches.

“I have made it clear that my Government will not build churches or temples as the money was being spent on re-building, improving schools and other infrastructure,” he said.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola0


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