1. SHIPPING ROUTES UNDER REVIEW – Economical routes between the main islands and parts of Kadavu and Levuka is the target of government’s Sea Route Licensing (SRL).
2. NO MORE WATER CUTS FOR LAGALAGA COMMUNITY – More than 30 rural Fijians comprising of eight households in a farming community in Lagalaga in the district of Nadogo will now receive consistent water supply.
3. INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS SELL ELECTRICTY TO FEA GRID – Government’s bid to provide affordable and sustainable energy service for rural areas, small businesses and disadvantaged households is becoming a reality.
4. LUCRATIVE BECHE-DE-MER BUSINESS POURS IN $25MILLION TO VILLAGERS – Twenty-five million dollars has been paid to local suppliers of the lucrative bech-de-mer business in Vanua Levu within the last three years by Gold Hold Sea Food Limited of Labasa.
5. COOK HAPPY WITH PROGRESS ON NABOUWALU-DREKETI HIGHWAY – About 40 per cent of work has already been completed by the China Railway (CRFG) Team under the Fiji Roads Authority for the Nabouwalu – Dreketi Highway project.
6. WORK ON SLIP PICKS UP PACE – Drivers, who travel daily along the Savusavu- Labasa Highway, will be glad to know that the Lomaloma Slip Project is already under refurbishment.
1 SHIPPING ROUTES UNDER REVIEW
Economical routes between the main islands and parts of Kadavu and Levuka is the target of government’s Sea Route Licensing (SRL).
The intent of the licensing is to ensure Fiji’s Shipping Services are consistent with Section 34 of the 2013 Constitution in which transport should be made accessible to all.
Minister for Transport and Works, Timoci Natuva said SRL would protect ship operators from undercutting each other in this high investment business, which has high business and environmental risks.
The first phase of the SRL involves the identification of economical routes, date and time of services and the voluntary scheduling of these routes following consultation with the operators.
The second phase will be the determination of the SRL fee and operational conditions to ensure these routes have a consistent shipping service to the community and the business interests of operators are protected from any unnecessary encroachment.
Economical routes identified by Government include certain routes taken by companies such as Venu Shipping, Goundar Shipping and Patterson Brothers Limited.
Highlighting the progress of government’s fare review, Minister Natuva said the Fiji Commerce Commission had written to all shipping companies requesting submissions which were due last month.
“Following the receipt of these submissions, FCC will then perform computation and circulate the draft authorisation,” Mr Natuva said.
“The findings of the FCC will then be required to be tabled to the minister before it is recommended to Cabinet for endorsement.”
2 NO MORE WATER CUTS FOR LAGALAGA COMMUNITY
More than 30 rural Fijians comprising of eight households in a farming community in Lagalaga in the district of Nadogo will now receive consistent water supply.
This is after the Commissioner Northern’s Office assisted the community with a 10,000 litre water tank replacing the community’s old water tank which has been leaking for some time.
Act. Commissioner Northern, Mr Alipate Bolalevu said the project was identified to assist rural communities have a proper and consistent water supply.
Funded under the Ministry’s self-help program , Mr Bolalevu emphasized that the project was identified by the community in consultation with Government.
“This is one of the six rural water projects to be implemented in the province of Macuata this year. It involves the purchase of a 10,000 litre water tank together with pipes and other accessories.”
Mr Bolalevu said Government is committed to addressing water problems in rural communities and that they will try their very best to improve the situation faced by these communities.
53 year old Arun Deo, a resident in the area on behalf of the community expressed gratitude to Government for the timely assistance.
“We are very grateful for Government for the assistance. We now have a consistent and a proper water supply as compared to the past,” Mr Prasad added.
Mr Deo also recalls the times when the community used to experience intermittent water supply. He also highlighted that sometimes women could not do their household chores because of water cuts.
“Now, all those will be a thing of the past,” Mr Deo said.
More than 10 water projects was implemented in the province of Macuata last year which costs Government a little over $110,000.00.
3 INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS SELL ELECTRICTY TO FEA GRID
Government’s bid to provide affordable and sustainable energy service for rural areas, small businesses and disadvantaged households is becoming a reality.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Public Utilities, Timoci Natuva said Government was providing incentives to Independent Power Producers (IPP) to sell electricity to the FEA grid.
“There are two-state owned IPPs, Tropik Woods Industries Limited and Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), with the combined capacity of about 10MW. Work is under way by FSC to bring another 15MW capacity at FSC Labasa before the third quarter of 2014 and 30MW at FSC Rarawai,” the minister said.
“More recently, a biomass-based IPP; Vuda Renewables has come on board with the proposed capacity of 17.8MW, which will supply FEA within two to three years from now.”
The Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) is the national utility responsible for urban and peri-urban electricity supply.
The Commerce Commission of Fiji has raised IPP trariff rate to 23 cents/KWh generating interest from potential investors to supply electricity to the grid.
Another IPP, Pacific Energy has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with FEA for a biomass project near Vuda with a capacity of up to 20MW.
In its plan Government provides duty free concession for the import of renewable energy equipments and related materials to manufacture renewable energy technologies.
FEA chief executive Hasmukh Patel (pictured) said dutyfree concession by Government for renewable energy projects was a key element in lowering project costs.
“It should allow IPPs to enter the industry and make a profit with their selling price to the utility,” Mr Patel said.
“FEA has been in consultations with other prospective IPPs for the last five years.
“FEA has signed a few Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and talks are under way with some others who are keen to invest in this sector.”
Director Energy Peceli Nakavulevu said Government spent close to $200million since 1993 and continued to invest on electricity infrastructure development.
Government’s effort in reducing the import bills includes bio fuel programme as an alternative to imported fossil fuels.
FEA had in 2011, prepared a ten-year Power Development, which is being reviewed this year for the next 10 years to ensure development takes place in a timely manner to meet the electricity demand of Viti Levu going forward.
4 LUCRATIVE BECHE-DE-MER BUSINESS POURS IN $25MILLION TO VILLAGERS
Twenty-five million dollars has been paid to local suppliers of the lucrative bech-de-mer business in Vanua Levu within the last three years by Gold Hold Sea Food Limited of Labasa.
The interesting revelation came from divisional fisheries officer northern Joji Vakawaletabua and confirmed by Richard Du of Gold Hold Sea Food Limited of Labasa.
Mr Vakawaletabua said a lot of families in the north improved their standard of living by selling beach-de-mer to Gold Hold Limited.
“Of course there is the trickle down effect that benefitted the local supermarket, village stores, carries drivers and others, so we are thankful to Gold Hold Limited for growing the northern economy in line with Governments look north policy,” Mr Vakawaletabua said.
“The high demand for beche-de-mer and the availability of buyers like Gold Hold has helped in the eradication of poverty, one of the pillars of the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress”
Mr Du said fisherman from 206 villages in Vanua Levu sold beche-de-mer to the company. This creates wealth to their families and grows the economy of the Northern Division.
“The high demand for beach-de-mer in Asian countries has benefited local suppliers in these villages on Vanua Levu raking in good money,” Mr Du said.
“We buy 20 different types of beach-de-mer giving a lot of options to suppliers.
“The different kinds of beche-de-mer that we buy included Sucu Walu, Green Fish, Loaloa, Dri Loli, Dri Tabua, Tarasea, Curry fish, Sucu Drau and Catapilla.
“The prices we pay local fishermen are very attractive and have encouraged high constant supply.”
The company buys Sucu Walu for $220 per kilogramme, Green Fish for $150 per kg, Loa Loa for 180 per kg, Dri Loli for $150 per kg, Dri Tabua for $150 per kg, Tarasea for 100 per kg, Curry fish $150 per kg, Sucu Drau $150 per kg, and Catapilla $100 per kg.”
(SPC) has revealed that Fiji raked in F$16m from exports of 300 tonnes of beche-de-mer to the Asian market in Research by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community 2009.
5 COOK HAPPY WITH PROGRESS ON NABOUWALU-DREKETI HIGHWAY
About 40 per cent of work has already been completed by the China Railway (CRFG) Team under the Fiji Roads Authority for the Nabouwalu – Dreketi Highway project.
Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) chief executive officer Neil Cook says work on the Nabouwalu – Dreketi project is progressing very well and “we are pleased with the progress”.
“The contractors China Railway have adjusted well to the requirements FRA has imposed to deliver improved quality of construction and materials”.
He said FRA and their consultants have been pleased with the way CRFG has worked with them to overcome obstacles and to ensure the Northern Division benefits from a superbly constructed highway for many years to come.
“This initiative of Government, being implemented by FRA with support of MWH and CRFG will open up significant economic development opportunities for the North,” Mr Cook said.
“With our increased attention to quality of design, quality of materials and quality of construction we will ensure the finished product is ready to serve the people of the North for future generations”.
China Railways media relations officer Donald Singh said that it was anticipated once the road was completed there would be a boom of activities in the region.
“Travel time from the Nabouwalu Jetty to Labasa will move from five hours to less then three hours,” the FRA chief said.
“Investors will become more confident and positive developments will be seen in the Bua Province.”
The Fiji Government’s “Look North Policy” prioritising Vanua Levu is every bit supportive of the economic boom that is poised to unfold.
Meanwhile, 64-year-old Uma Dutt, who has been living in Nasarawaqa all of his life, sees a bright future of his grandchildren by the time the road project is completed.
“With this upgrade, access to schools, tertiary institutions for the children in this area will be easy,” Mr Dutt said.
“We are really happy, before no Government has ever thought to look into our communities and see what we need, and now we have had our solar lights installed; now with the roads, we are going to receive proper electricity and water.”
“We have struggled a lot in the past, we have seen how hard life is but now our future generation will have a bright future.”
He said there were more than 50 families living in his settlement and with these projects even access to medical facilities will be made easy.
The 70-kilometre Nabouwalu –Dreketi Highway project costs $228million, it is a four-year long project of the Bainimarama Government with the Fiji Roads Authority with Montgomery Watson Hauser (MWH) that is being carried out by China Railway First Group Fiji (CRFG) Company.
6 WORK ON SLIP PICKS UP PACE
Drivers, who travel daily along the Savusavu- Labasa Highway, will be glad to know that the Lomaloma Slip Project is already under refurbishment.
Valued at $5,399,871, the refurbishment of the Lomaloma slip project at the transinsular road on the highway is still underway.
Under Fiji Roads Authority the China Railway First Group (Fiji) Company Limited was given the contract period for 210 days. (20/10/13 –18/05/2014)
In 2009 a heavy rainfall forced about 50 metres of the Lomaloma stretch to vertically sink 2.5 metres and halted the traffic flow.
FRA CEO Neil Cook said the road was prone to erosion during heavy rains and the refurbishment work would ensure it was controlled.
Spring water flows under the road and is the cause of the road slide. China Railway media oficer Donald Singh said pipes had now been built under the road to ensure proper outflow during adverse weather conditions.
“As of this month, we have completed 49 per cent of the total works,” Mr Singh said.
Vikash Chand, 34, of Wailevu in Labasa said the quicker the slip project was completed then the safety of the drivers and the pedestrians would be ensured.