State steps in

SUGAR Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan says a EU-funded $30 million cane access road upgrade works facilitated by the Pacific Community (SPC) was not progressing well until there was intervention by the Prime Minister’s office.

Mr Karan, who is also the PM’s permanent secretary, said despite the project being established in 2015, not much was done until two years later when Government stepped in.

“It started at a relatively slow pace, without urgency and did not progress until mid-2016 after the intervention of the office of the Prime Minister which appointed a Project Steering Committee (PSC) chaired by the PM’s office,” he said.

Mr Karan added the PSC was assigned to expedite the implementation of the project to ensure it met timelines and, more importantly, that the funds utilised benefitted canefarmers.

“Right now the budget utilisation for this project is 86 per cent and scheduled to be completed in December 2018.

“With continuous monitoring of the projects by the PSC and the PM’s Office, the project is anticipated to be completed by the third quarter of this year.

“Through the intervention of the Fijian Government, the construction of Irish crossings in Drasa and Koronubu sectors were also included in the project with the savings realised within the budget.

“The construction of the Irish crossings initially was not part of the project.”

The EU-funded Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project is a four-year program which began in January 2015 with SPC contracted to implement it.

A total of $30m was provided by the EU to upgrade 200 kilometres of cane access roads in Malolo in Nadi, Drasa in Lautoka and Koronubu in Ba.