Fiji Sugar Mill Stoppages 'Not Acceptable' Says Permanent Secretary

Farmers complain they are losing money 

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 7, 2016) – The continuous stoppages at the Fiji Sugar Corporation's Lautoka and Rarawai mills are not acceptable, says Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan.

He was responding to concerns raised by farmers across the Western Division about ongoing issues at both mills.

"I am going to visit the Lautoka mill tonight (yesterday) and Ba mill tomorrow (today) to get to the bottom of these issues," said Mr Karan.

"From what I understand, Rarawai had electrical problems and FSC engineers tried to repair the problem. During trials, the mill worked well, but once cane was fed into the machines the mill stopped crushing again.

"Despite further attempts by our local engineers, the problem could not be rectified.

"As a result, we had to fly in engineers from India and it took some time to bring them over and they are working round-the-clock to fix the issue."

Mr Karan said the Lautoka mill developed issues with a conveyor belt and this was being addressed with urgency.

Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association president Girish Kumar said issues at both mills were costing farmers money.

He said apart from the lack of communication from FSC when stoppages occurred, there were issues with the quotas being issued.

"Growers from Moto and Naloto sectors in Ba are being given quotas to deliver cane to the Lautoka mill instead of Rarawai because the Ba mill is struggling to cope with processing its own cane plus the cane from Penang mill area," he said. And what is happening is the trucks are being turned away at the Lautoka mill and told to return to Rarawai. Our biggest concern is the costs incurred by farmers when these things happen."

Fiji Times Online.
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