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Fiji Time: 7:21 PM on Tuesday 22 July

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Trains for public transport

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A $20million project proposed by the FSC could see people of the Western Division travelling on a new mode of transport.

The project would see the use of sugar cane tramlines for commercial trains to ferry passengers across the region.

In a government statement, FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan said they were reviewing the railways and would invest millions over the next few years in the project. "We only use our railways during the crushing season and the other six months, it) is idle so we have come up with an idea to invest a little more so that we are able to get some returns from our investment," Mr Khan said.

"At the same time provide an alternative mode of transportation for locals as well as tourists."

"Talks with stakeholders have reached the stage where we will implement our strategy because most times, our railway lines are idle and cane transportation via railway is somewhat decreased."

He said the train system would start in 2016.

"We are looking at options on whether the trains would be for produce or people or both so the figure will be different for this capital investment. We expect the returns to be also massive."

Fiji Sugarcane Growers Council acting CEO Sundresh Chetty said the introduction of trains would certainly boost the transportation sector.

"About 70 to 80 per cent of cane used to be transported via the trams in the '80s but right now, it has moved on to trucks, which gives another reason to use the railways for other purposes," Mr Chetty said.

Meanwhile, the government has thrown its support behind the project.

Permanent secretary for Sugar Manasa Vaniqi said the project would boost the country's transportation earnings.

"Villagers and communities in rural areas could use it as an alternative to buses and minivans," Mr Vaniqi said.


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