Cane farmers air concerns on road works

A tractor stuck along Vunicuicui Rd outside Labasa Town. Picture SERAFINA SILAITOGA

CANE farmers in Labasa are pleading with the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) to ensure road upgrades allow for the safe carting of cane towed by tractors.

Farmers raised their concerns with the FRA after two tractors got stuck on a steep hill in Vunicuicui and delayed a bus loaded with passengers.

Vinesh Bina said the incident happened last Thursday and could have been avoided if the recent road works by FRA contractors were done properly.

“The contractors just upgraded this road, they raised the level and made a soft surface which is why our tractors got stuck,” he said.

“The tractors couldn’t climb up the steep hill because the tyres got stuck in the soft road surface. “We hope something is done about it, otherwise we won’t be able to take our cane to the mill.”

Other farmers in the area raised similar concerns.

A statement from the FRA said work was in progress to provide a traction seal to the hill section.

“The current stabilized road surface condition, without traction seal, is suitable for tractors that are having loads,” said FRA in a statement.

“However, the tractor needs to have the capacity to counter balance the weight of the sugarcane-laden carts that it is towing to the sugar mill.

“If there is a mismatch then what has happened today (last Thursday) will reoccur.”

The FRA also said that bulldozers must be transported on low-loaders and not driven on any roads.

“These bulldozers have steel tracks which cause serious damage to the road pavement.

“FRA’s perspective is upon completion of the traction seal, tractors will not have any problems using Vunicuicui hill as long as there is a balance between the capacity of a tractor and the load it has in tow to the mill.

“Tractors carry allowable loads should be able to negotiate the Vunicuicui Hill.

“The addition of the traction seal is a means to give some durability to the road surface.”

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