FRA-MWH Row And The Threat To The Files
The on-going saga between the Fiji Roads Authority and MWH Global may take longer than anticipated to resolve. Questions and statements have been fired by both sides with neither one backing down. The row, which had been simmering for awhile, broke out into the open after the deportation of two senior MWH personnel two weeks ago. Department of Immigration director, Nemani Vuniwaqa, had confirmed they were following orders from the higher echelons of Government. FRA in a statement released over the weekend said they had legitimate concerns about the conduct of the two employees. One issued threats to an employee of FRA, while the other wrote to third parties and disclosed details of the dispute. The threat made from the MWH side was that they would pull out of Fiji if payment claimed for work done was not made by Wednesday, September 14, 2016. MWH would also pull the pin and pursue FRA’s outstanding bill. FRA would not get access to any electronic files and all paper files will be dumped at the foyer of the FRA building.
Interestingly, the FRA is based out of the Fiji Development Bank building in Suva, just meters away from the Kadavu House, where MWH is based. From the FRA perspective, the threats were clearly bullying tactics. The threat by MWH to dump paper files at the foyer of the FDB building was labeled as “absolutely childish and demonstrates their level of professionalism.” The announcement a few days later that MWH had terminated their Fijian contract was expected.
This is despite efforts by FRA to solve the matter amicably. FRA was understood to be working with its lawyers to put together an offer to settle. This of course would be made on the basis that MWH Global provided detailed substantiation of all its fees over the past three years. It did not work. From Sydney, MWH’s managing director, Mark Rezone, maintained that they also attempted to resolve concerns raised by the FRA. They refuted FRA’s statements. Tasked to deliver to the Fijian people good transport infrastructure, FRA has regrouped and will continue to deliver its programme.
Yesterday, positions previously held by MWH employees , were advertised. Suitably qualified former MWH workers may find employment - but there is no guarantee. This could mean FRA taking on at least 60 new positions. Beyond that is anybody’s guess. What we have learned so far suggests this row could become a protracted legal battle with the saga of threats and deportations setting the scene.