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Costly weights waiver

Luke Rawalai
Monday, March 24, 2014

THE Fiji Roads Authority says it will ensure officials allowing legal loading weight exemptions have adequate knowledge before approving them.

Speaking during a tour to the North, authority CEO Neil Cook said it was important that decisions to grant exemptions were based on adequate information .

This was because while the exemption — for those in the sugar industry — created cost-saving within the industry, there were other costs behind these exemptions such as for road maintenance.

Mr Cook said the authorities making exemptions needed to determine whether savings in this area of the economy were worth the cost of road maintenance as a result of cane truck overloads.

He said currently Fiji did not have the actual base to make those decisions.

"Whether it is a private company or the sugar industry, any overloaded vehicle increases maintenance costs on the road, in particular where there are social costs from accidents if that overload is contributing to accidents," he said.

"In circumstances where we accept those maintenance costs, that is the decision of a higher authority.

"We don't make decisions but we rather provide advice on what the situation is and we only look at quantifying the problem.

"I don't have a hard position on the rights and wrongs of it but my concern is that decision makers have the best information available now if they accept maintenance cost on roads and subsidise an industry."

He said they wanted to ensure that decisions were made with full knowledge of what the full extent of that extra cost was on the wider economy and the taxpayer.

"If the people who are in the authority make those decisions based on sufficient knowledge, the FRA is fine with that."

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