NATION

Labasa Comes Back To Life After Opening Of Mill

There has been notable business growth after the opening of Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Labasa mill on June 8, this year.
19 Aug 2022 15:33
Labasa Comes Back To Life After Opening Of Mill
Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Labasa mill. Photo: Shratika Naidu

There has been notable business growth after the opening of Fiji Sugar Corpo­ration’s Labasa mill on June 8, this year.

This was according to Labasa Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, Satish Kumar,

He said as usual there were two seasons in a year for the Babasiga Town.

From February to June there is slow busi­ness growth because people have spent a lot of money trying to recover.

“Many spend money during the festive sea­son (Christmas and New Year) and then do back to school shopping followed by a long Easter holiday,” Mr Kumar said.

After that people try to spend less money and do savings.

He said when Labasa mill opened there was more cash flow, more movement of people doing shopping as harvesting season began bringing people right from Bua and outer is­lands to work as labourers.

He added this was a normal trend in Labasa.

Labasa Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, Satish Kumar on August 17, 2022. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Labasa Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, Satish Kumar on August 17, 2022.
Photo: Shratika Naidu

Factors Affecting Business Growth in Labasa

Mr Kumar said the increased freight world-wide was greatly felt by the business people in Labasa.

“To bring a container from Viti Levu now costs us $8, 000,” he said.

“Moreover, due to weight restriction on our roads, we now have to hire two trucks to bring our items where before we managed to bring in one truck.”

The second factor was the increase in rent by Labasa landlords.

There has been a drastic increase in rent where for example, a building which was rented out for $4,000 is now $7,000.

“This is one of the reasons why we see some shops closing down and relocating to another location or occupied by new companies,” he said.

“We don’t have the exact statistics now as to how many businesses have opened or closed as this is ongoing.”

However, he said they are optimistic to see business growth in the remaining few months of 2022.

 

Labasa Mill

During the opening of the 2022 crushing season at Labasa mill, the President of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere stated that an estimate of 220,000 people are in­volved in the industry and for the North, it is the main income generating avenue in the agriculture sector since 1894 when the mill was first established.

“The industry has played an important role for the people of Vanua Levu, inclusive of the Macuata province where an estimated 80,000 people are directly and indirectly involved with the sugarcane industry at one time or another,” Mr Katonivere said.

“Nearly 4,000 cane growers supply cane to the only sugar mill on the island while around 350 employees are engaged in the maintenance and operations of the factory and coordination of field activities.”

Other stakeholders including the lorry drivers, cane cutters, mechanical harvester operators, tractor trailer operators and the sardars from the different gangs make up the balance of people engaged in this.

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj



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