COVID-19 | SUNBIZ

Former Malau Sawmill For COVID-19 Isolation Centre

The closed Fiji Forest Industries (FFI) sawmill site at Malau in Labasa is being earmarked as a COVID-19 isolation Centre.
10 Apr 2020 11:52
Former Malau Sawmill For COVID-19 Isolation Centre

The closed Fiji Forest Industries (FFI) sawmill site at Malau in Labasa is being earmarked as a COVID-19 isolation Centre.

This was confirmed both by the Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete and the Chief Operating Officer for Tropik Wood Industries Limited, Vimlesh Kumar.

Tropik Wood Industries Limited, a subsidiary company of Fiji Pine Limited, is the parent company for FFI and closed the mill on May 22, 2019.

The company sold off all its machinery with only the mill structure left standing on the property.

Dr Waqainabete, when contacted yesterday said the place was to be used as a COVID-19 isolation centre should the need arise.

“This place would be used as an isolation centre for the north,” he said.

“We have identified the place and it was being prepared to handle COVID-19 cases.

“There are a few around which we have also identified and whether it would be used or not depends but at least we have the place prepared.”

Dr Waqainabete said they would have all necessary equipment in place as with other isolation facilities.

Meanwhile, Mr Kumar said the company fully supported Government’s efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and was happy to have given the facility for its use.

“Yes, we have allowed the Ministry of Forests staff members to clear the FFI site in preparation for COVID-19 action plan,” Mr Kumar said.

“We fully support this in assisting our Government’s efforts in fighting this pandemic.”

Ministry of Forestry North staff members clearing debris along Malau Road. This is at the old Fiji Forest Industries (FFI) compound near Vuo Village and 15 minutes from Labasa Town. This will be soon used as a COVID-19 isolation centre. Photo: Ministry of Forestry_Fiji, Orisi Baleivatea

Ministry of Forestry North staff members clearing debris along Malau Road. This is at the old Fiji Forest Industries (FFI) compound near Vuo Village and 15 minutes from Labasa
Town. This will be soon used as a COVID-19 isolation centre. Photo: Ministry of Forestry_Fiji, Orisi Baleivatea

About FFI

FFI closed operations as it had been in an insolvent state over the last decade.

FFI was a native species plywood and veneer mill and the main reason for its insolvency status was the non-availability of native species logs.

FFI had said in a statement on its closure that it was never established as part of the pine industry.

The mill was operating through financial support provided by its parent company, Tropik Wood Industries.

“Every effort has been made to revive the company over the past decade however the challenge of resource is beyond FFI’s control,” FFI had said in that statement.

The 100 per cent dividend holding shareholders of the parent company were the pine landowners who leased their land for pine plantation.

The money that Tropik Wood Industries put into FFI to cover its losses over the years was money taken from pine landowners.

Through widespread consultation undertaken by Fiji Pine Trust, a decision was reached to close FFI.

This decision was made after over a decade of the parent company’s support.

Tropik Wood paid a $3 million redundancy packages to 220 FFI workers which depended on their years of service.

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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