FRA-MWH Row And The Threat To The Files

Fiji Sun - - Parliament - Edited by Maraia Vula by Rosi Do­viver­ata Feed­back: rosi.do­viver­ata@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.

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