Apr 4, 2010

PNG building boom attracts Fiji firm

THE booming building industry in Papua New Guinea has at least attracted Fiji's leading manufacturer of concrete, masonry blocks Standard Concrete Industries.

Basic Industries Ltd chief executive officer Mosese Volavola said they were aggressively pursuing expansions into these markets to make up for the 20 per cent to 30 per cent drop in revenue in Fiji's 'quiet' construction industry.

He said SCI, a major division of Basic Industries, aimed to penetrate the "promising" PNG market. Mr Volavola said Tahiti and New Caledonia were also in their expansion plans.

"We're now looking outside Fiji to make up for the drop in revenue because while the local market is quiet and subdued, we're picking up on exports," Mr Volavola told the Fiji Times.

"We're currently selling our products to Vanuatu, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands and now we're targeting other island nations, particularly Papua New Guinea," Mr Volavola said.

"And this should be good because instead of laying people off and reducing our operations, exports are still keeping us going."

Mr Volavola said the demand for cement and concrete building materials was high given the recent signing of two multi-billion dollar contracts for the extraction of natural gas.

"There is no direct shipping to PNG at the moment and that is what we are looking at right now. Hopefully, by the second quarter of 2010, we should achieve the PNG market and the other option is to establish our operation there," he said. "That of course will depend on the size of the market to determine the viability of our operation but in PNG, the market is there, it's big with a population of around six million the PNG market is very promising."

Mr Volavola said many of Fiji's neighbours did not have good quality sand, gravel or rocks available locally and Fiji was a cheaper option for quality over Australia and New Zealand, complemented by a regular shipping service.

SCI national manager masonry and export Umesh Kumar said their increase in exports over the last five years was attributed to the quality of products manufactured locally.

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