SUNBIZ

Ecotrax Make Use Of Old Fiji Sugar Corporation Railway Tracks

Based at Cuvu, in Sigatoka, Ecotrax provides a unique adventure where one gets to pedal along the beautiful forest, rock cuttings, villages and fields of surroundings on Fiji’s first electric powered velocipede.
16 Feb 2019 13:00
Ecotrax Make Use Of Old Fiji Sugar Corporation Railway Tracks
Howard de Vries working on a velocipede.

A New Zealand couple’s kind gesture in providing bicycles for children of a Sigatoka village culminated with an amazing business story and the birth of Ecotrax Fiji.

This is now using old Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) cane railway tracks.

About the company

Based at Cuvu, in Sigatoka, Ecotrax provides a unique adventure where one gets to pedal along the beautiful forest, rock cuttings, villages and fields of surroundings on Fiji’s first electric powered velocipede.

This story began sometimes in 2016 when Mandy and Howard de Vries visited Navuevue Village where they had bought 30 bicycles for the children.

“Howard also taught them how to change the tyres, carry out some repairs and mainly maintain the bicycles.

“In front of the village ran the old sugar cane rail tracks and Howard came up with an idea and asked the village rugby team to help him clear the tracks of the overgrown grass.”

Assistance from FSC

Some assistance was also provided by the Fiji Sugar Corporation, who were not using the tracks to provide some repair work.

This took two years before things started to move.

“Howard designed the first prototype where he got one bicycle mounted on an old base for a rail truck but it was too heavy for that one bike.”

“This is not something new as this velocipede was invented in the 1950s’ and was used by train drivers to travel back to their garages or town to pick up spare parts when there was a breakdown.”

Mr de Vries then re-designed the velocipede and installed an electric motor which helped powered the machine along the tracks when one is not pedaling.

“Being a green inventor, we did not want to use any fossil fuel which could damage the vegetation along the journey and create pollution for the villagers.

“We started our business in January 2018 and have 10 velocipedes today but will double that by the end of May this year.”

Projects with women

The attraction has become so popular now that the company has had to turn bookings down.

“Once we get the other 10 velocipedes then we can increase the daily trips.”

Mrs de Vries said they have also started up projects with women in the villages along the way.

“We have got them to grow fruits which we provide to our guests and we are looking forward to the first harvest in two weeks’ time.

“We have also provided employment for locals to build the machines and the only thing we import is the power motors from Japan.”

At present, trips depart twice daily from the Cuvu base which was the old Fiji Sugar Corporation locomotive shed.

Ecotrax are finalists in Fiji Pride Champion and the Visitors Attraction and activity category for the two categories for the ANZ Fiji Excellence In Tourism Awards.

 

Finalists in the ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards to take place at Sofitel Resort and Spa.

Finalists in the ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards to take place at Sofitel Resort and Spa.

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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