Truck owners protest

Nabouwalu Road Solevu Hill traction sealing successfully completed by the FRA. Picture: SUPPLIED

A GROUP of truck owners in Bua have called on Fiji Pine Ltd (FPL) to increase their carting rates because they are beginning to operate under loss.The groups spokesperson Dip Narayan said they had also requested FPL to liaise with authorities to reduce fines levied on overloaded logging trucks.

Mr Narayan said they were currently being paid $15.50 per tonne by the company’s sub-contractors to transport logs.

“Considering that we have to transport these logs for 45km from Korokadi to Labasa, the price of 55 litres of fuel alone for a return trip to the mill is $98.46,” he said.

“We also have to pay our driver their wages of $30 per trip and tax which leaves us with an average profi t of $20.35 for one load.

“It is unrealistic considering that we have commitments to banks, families to feed and other expenses. We are trying to let our grievances be known to the company, but instead they have turned a blind eye to our plea.”

Mr Narayan claimed that yesterday a total of 34 truck owners had decided to stop work in a show of protest.

“However, a few lorry owners have been threatened to load pine logs and they had resumed work today (yesterday), but as for us, we will continue to protest for logging cartage rates to be increased,” he said.

Responding to the grievances of the lorry owners, FPL’s Vanua Levu operations manager Maniata Tasere said they were not aware of the protest because they had not been notified by those involved.

Mr Tasere said FPL would continue to abide by Land Transport Authority’s regulations regarding the issue of overloading, adding there was nothing the company could do regarding the issue.

“We are not aware of Mr Narayan’s grievances because we have been liasing with other lorry drivers who say they are not aware of the claims made,” he said.