Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (centre) inspects the Malolo sector cane access road following the launch of roadworks on 14 March, 2017. At the far left (in yellow shirt) is European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, HE Andrew Jacobs

Over 200 sugarcane farmers and their families in the Drasa sector of Fiji’s sugarcane belt region will benefit from road rehabilitation works that have commenced in the area, following the awarding of a FJD$4.13 million contract to Dayals Quarries Limited earlier this month.

The upgrading works cover 39kms of cane access roads and will ease farmers’ time and transport costs once completed. The road rehabilitation work has been made possible through the European Union (EU) EUR13 million (F$30 million) Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project, implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). The four-year RARAI project is a significant partnership between the EU and SPC.

The RARAI project also attempts to improve watershed management in the Drasa, Koronubu and Malolo sugarcane sectors and is generating income for residents through employment opportunities during the construction period.

Once completed, the road works will benefit over 2000 cane farming households in the sugarcane belt area.

“This project tackles a key challenge for farmers, in particular in more remote areas of Fiji, by easing the transportation of sugar to the mills. The project has also an important social component, as it will provide employment for vulnerable groups of the population. It is therefore an important element in the EU’s ongoing support to the sugar sector in Fiji. There is now a lot of effort to implement the rehabilitation of the access roads in a short period of time, while all stakeholders will still need to be closely associated,” said Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific.

“SPC is delighted for cane farmers, their families and other commuters who will benefit directly from the Drasa Phase II road upgrading works. We envisage the rehabilitation works will augment government’s effort to prepare cane access roads in time for the cane crushing season that starts next month,” said Dr Colin Tukuitonga, SPC Director General.

Contractor representatives, including representatives of the Fiji Government, the sugar and roads sectors, the EU and SPC held a partner dialogue in Lautoka today to strengthen communication between them and to hear how the Drasa Phase II works will be implemented. The roadworks will be supervised by Civil Works Solutions (CWS).

The F$30 million road rehabilitation works, funded by the EU under their “Accompanying Measures for the Sugar Protocol” (AMSP) programme will see over 200kms of cane access roads and drainage systems in the Malolo, Drasa and Koronubu cane sectors rehabilitated between now and the 2018 cane crushing seasons.

In March 2017, the Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry and Foreign Affairs, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama officially launched the RARAI project in the Malolo sugarcane sector in Nadi. (ENDS)

Background:
The four-year Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).

The expected key results of the RARAI project are: (i) improved watershed management in specific sugarcane sectors through rehabilitation and maintenance of cane access roads, including associated rural infrastructure; (ii) increased community/household income through inclusion in the rehabilitation and maintenance of cane access roads, including associated rural infrastructure; and (iii) establishment of road maintenance systems.

Media contacts:
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist, Email: [email protected]
Lauren Robinson, SPC Media Relations Team Leader, Email: [email protected]
Albert Cerelala, SPC RARAI Project Team Leader, Email: [email protected]