Higgins wins Fiji road contract worth $200m
Manawatu roading firm Higgins will net about $200 million over four years after winning a contract to maintain 6000 kilometres of roads in Fiji.
The contract, which starts next year, will see the company maintain roads, bridges, signs, road markings and respond to emergencies for an area which covers two-thirds of the Viti Levu island.
Higgins competed against 28 other companies for the contract, which will last for four years with a right of extension for either one or two more years.
Managing director Bernard Higgins said about 15 New Zealanders would be based in Fiji at any time, with about 150 Fijians contracted.
The contract was worth about $200 million, which Mr Higgins said would be money well-earned.
"We have got to work hard for it.
"People think working in Fiji is like paradise, and it is at the resort island, but where we are working it is not like that at all.
"It's a big challenge for our staff to go over there and fit into the environment."
Many of the roads were unsealed, while others ran high into mountains, he said.
"We went for a drive last Sunday over 220 kilometres to look at roads, and the average speed was under 30kmh.
"That's how rough they are."
The contract, which was in the works since May this year, was negotiated with Fiji's prime minister and minister of roads Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
Mr Higgins said he had a positive outlook on the project.
"The Fijian Government said to us that they have to be able to get buses to the end of the roads so children could get to school.
"There's a lot of emphasis on improving roading and infrastructure to help improve education ability."
The project would also give some Fijians a chance to improve their skills, he said.
"We will use jobs like these to give opportunities to our staff, especially some younger ones, and we will be bringing Fijian people with potential here for training."
The weather conditions in Fiji would help to cover slower patches in New Zealand, Mr Higgins said.
"A lot of our work with bitumen and road sealing, which we can't really do in July, we will be able to do in Fiji."
In a statement, Commodore Bainimarama said the contract was good for Fiji. "A critical role for [Higgins] will be to pass on their expertise to local workers and companies."