The interim regime and Fiji Sugar Corporation are lying that two of the three sugar mills that kicked of its 2009 crushing season are operating normally.
Our sources have established that in a statement issued through the regime’s information ministry last Wednesday, FSC's Chief Executive, Deo Sharan, lied about the status of the Lautoka and Labasa mills.
In the statement, Saran said the Labasa mill “is still in the process of fine tuning and this was expected in the early stages of crushing”.
However, our sources say the Labasa mill, which started crushing on Tuesday 9th June, was shut more than it was opened, because of the electrical and mechanical defects that were not fixed before the start of crushing season.
The frequent breakdowns are frustrating cane farmers in the Northern Division who are incurring additional expenses in trying to look after the needs of their hired cane cutters. Farmers have to hire about 85 per cent of their cutters for the harvesting season.
Our sources have also established that the largest sugar mill at Lautoka has not crushed any cane since Tuesday 16th June when it was supposed to start operations.
Sources have confirmed the mill has been non-operational for the last four days and that more than 2000 tonnes of cane was harvested on Monday 15th June – a day before crushing is drying in the mill yard. A similar tonnage of harvested cane is still lying in the cane fields and on lorries.
Mills like Labasa are not likely to start crushing until early next week.
In the meantime cane cutting gangs in the mill area are also idle.