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Department penalises company for overloading trucks

By LUKE RAWALAI
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

THE Fiji Forests Department in Labasa has fined a logging company in the North for overloading logging trucks and failing to halt vehicle operations during wet weather.

Speaking in Labasa yesterday, divisional forest officer North Asaeli Mata said they had started penalising logging companies for overloading.

He said they had the matter under control and they would not be lenient with companies that continued to operate heavy laden logging trucks during wet weather.

This follows the Fiji Roads Authority's CEO Neil Cook's concern over the effects of overloaded logging trucks on Northern roads which has worsened despite their earlier warnings.

Mr Cook said overloaded vehicles were a hazard to roads, a drain on public funds and most importantly an extreme risk to the safety of the public.

He said roads in rural areas were in no condition to take loads from heavy logging trucks especially during wet weather.

"There is barely 100 millimetre of gravel in many locations and nil in others," he said.

"We have 1000 kilometres of roads such as this and at 40km per year of rehabilitation (which is what we have in 2014), it is still going to take many years to rebuild all roads that need it."

Mr Cook said when FRA did not rehabilitate a section, logging trucks would wreck it if they behaved in this irresponsible way.

This, he said drained public funds on activities that should not be needed if they acted within the law.

"Enforcement agencies cannot be everywhere at one time, therefore, all sectors of society need to play a part and understand that the regulations are there for good reason — not just for protecting the government's asset — but also for protecting our most precious assets which are our people."