Was Lautoka mill ready?

NFP leader Biman Prasad. Picture: FT FILE/JONA KONATACI

THE National Federation Party says questions need to be asked whether the Lautoka sugar mill was prepared for the start of the 2018 harvest and crushing season.

Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said it used to be common practice for all mills to be audited prior to the start of crush.

“A mill audit is vitally important to ascertain its state of preparedness — that is, whether the mill underwent all necessary repair works and maintenance works to ensure all facets of its operations were ready,” he said.

“Normally a mill audit must be certified and sighted by the Sugar Industry Tribunal before crushing dates are announced. It cannot be determined by Fiji Sugar Corporation alone”.

Prof Prasad said mill audits were normally jointly carried out by all stakeholders including the Sugar Cane Growers Council.

“Ever since the dissolution of the Council, we doubt whether this necessary process has been complied with.

“As a result of the lack of democratisation in the sugar industry, particularly SCGC, it is the cane growers, cane cutters, lorry operators and lorry drivers who are suffering.”

The Lautoka mill suffered two breakdowns this week — an eight-hour stoppage on Wednesday and more than 12 hour stoppage on Friday — because of mechanical issues.

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