‘Alternate Route May Save Jobs’

Logging companies set to close because of no logs and 10-tonne weight restriction on Laqere bridge.
06 Apr 2021 13:01
‘Alternate Route May Save Jobs’
From Left: Pinto Industries Pte Limited managing director Vishal Narayan, Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited director Feroz Begg, Turaga ni mataqali of Tabia Eremasi Vakameyau and Pinto Industries Pte Limited business consultant Viliame Jiuta in Tabia Village, Labasa, on March 30, 2021. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Two sawmill operators in the Northern Division believe an alternative route to ship their logs could save jobs and their business.

Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited director Feroz Begg and Pinto Industries Pte Limited managing director Vishal Narayan said reopening the loop road in Tabia Village, Labasa, was a solution.

Yesterday, Mr Begg and Mr Narayan visited the turaga ni mataqali (head of landowning unit) of Tabia, Eremasi Vakameyau.

The Laqere Bridge.  Photo: Shratika Naidu

The Laqere Bridge. Photo: Shratika Naidu

During the visit, they had sought Mr Vakameyau’s help to request Government about considering reopening the loop road in Tabia Village.

The sawmills and logging companies have decided to close down because of the 10-tonne weight restriction on the Laqere Bridge along the detour.

Mr Vakameyau said some company leaders have visited him personally, seeking approval.

“I have told them the loop road was closed six years ago after some culverts were damaged,” Mr Vakameyau said.

“Since then, many use the Soisoi Bridge and Laqere Bridge to travel to Labasa Town.”

For the sake of saving jobs, Mr Vakameyau said Government should consider the plight of the sawmillers.

Mr Begg said this week he would close the mill since there were no logs.

“I will have to send close to 217 employees home. It is very difficult to transport log across Laqere Bridge because our truck itself is 10 tonnes,” he said.

The Korosomo slip during Tropical Cyclone Ana had affected business as well.”

Mr Narayan said: “We don’t know the exact time as to when the alternative route will be completed and hence, we are requesting the existing Government loop road to be reopened.

“Many families affected by TC Yasa and Ana are still recovering and in need of building materials.”

He said any more delays would cause further frustrations for businesses and customers.

Fiji Roads Authority acting chief executive officer Kamal Prasad said they have the Government loop road from Tabia to Korosomo Hill, but not Tabia to Soisoi.

“The said route between Tabia Village and Soisoi crosses over native leases for cane farmers and it’s a non-FRA asset,” Mr Prasad said.

“Considering the financial constraints, FRA will concentrate on the realignment rather than upgrading the said route.”

Minister for Infrastructure Jone Usamate, in a report last Saturday, said the alternative route would be completed by the end of this month, if good weather prevailed.




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