‘Lost opportunity’

Sugar Cane farmer Chote Lal raises his concerns during Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Talanoa with farmers in Drasa Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

THAT’S a mistake that we should not make again.

Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark made this comment when queried about the poor state of the $4.25 million road infrastructure work carried out in Drasa, Lautoka, under the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project.

His comment was in response to issues raised by Drasa canegrower Prem Chand during a talanoa session facilitated by the FSC yesterday.

“About the RARAI project that was done in our area, when they did the culverts they did not listen to us and now the water is overflowing and damaging our roads,” said Mr Chand.

Mr Clark said the poor infrastructure work would not have been an issue if farmers had been consulted.

“The RARAI road issue, again I shake my head at a ‘lost opportunity’. Again, consultation with the people who know would have helped a lot,” the FSC CEO said.

“I like to look at everything positively and I like to think that we can fix the issue with the culverts.

“We have our own road team who are quite closely associated with it and with the stakeholders and everybody else , we are trying to find a solution for that. “But it is a very good point and we should learn from that. That’s a mistake and let’s not make that mistake again.”

SPC received more than $30m from the European Union (EU) to rehabilitate cane access roads and infrastructure in Malolo-Nadi, Drasa-Lautoka and Koronubu-Ba.

Under the four-year project (2014-2018), 50 cane access roads with a total length of 42km in Drasa sector, on the outskirts of Lautoka, were upgraded compliments of a $4.25m partnership between SPC and Fairdeal Earthmoving Contractors Ltd and funded by the EU.

In response to questions sent by this newspaper yesterday, SPC said sugar projects had monitoring mechanisms in place with the relevant stakeholders and any issues would be addressed in those forums and not through the media.

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