Delay in mill restart

Rakiraki truck driver Muni Chand (2nd from left) with other drivers waits patiently for the Lautoka Sugar Mill to start crushing. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FILE

MORE than 200 cane-laden trucks crowded the Lautoka sugar mill yard and spilt out on to Waterfront Rd and Marine Drive yesterday after the factory failed to restart after a scheduled stop.

Lorry drivers said they were frustrated and concerned about the continuing issues at the country’s biggest mill. They, however, asked to remain unnamed, claiming they feared being victimised.

“We were told that the mill will start at 1pm today (yesterday), but it is now 5.30pm and we have no idea when it will start, this can’t go on,” said a driver who travelled from Ba. The drivers said they were concerned the mill had not been able to settle down despite being in operation for two weeks. “If they are not able to fix it in two weeks, how will we know that the mill will be fixed at all?”

The Fiji Sugar Corporation last night in a statement said the Lautoka mill was scheduled to start at 1pm after a scheduled maintenance stop but the maintenance checks took a bit longer and the mill resumed crushing at 6pm yesterday.

FSC had issued a statement on Sunday announcing a scheduled stop after crushing all the cane in the mill yard on Sunday.

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark had said the mill would resume crushing on Monday after cleaning and maintenance.

Lorry drivers claim they were informed that crushing would resume at 1pm yesterday.

However, when this newspaper visited the mill yard at 5.30pm, crushing had not started. The latest incident is the third stoppage for the mill in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Sugar Industry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan said farmers affected by unscheduled stoppages at the Lautoka mill would be assisted. He said the announcement would be made this morning during the opening of the Rarawai mill in Ba for the 2018 crushing season.

More Stories