I. REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND DEVELOPMENT TRENDS RELATED TO URBANIZATION
C. Commercial and industrial activities in the Suva area
The current level of industrial and commercial activities in the Suva area is difficult to estimate accurately. In principal, several measures of the level and structure of economic activity in Suva could be used, including:
Unfortunately, data are not available for the first two measures listed above. The Bureau of Statistics, from time to time, carries out employment surveys that provide some data on the third measure. However, not all commercial activities are covered, and the Suva area is not disagregated from other urban areas in Fiji. Yet the figures do provide a good overall picture of the manufacturing sector which is predominately found in the Suva area. The last full survey was conducted in 1993; however, some results are available for 1996. Manufacturing employment figures since 1986 are presented in table 3. Apart from garments, the figures show little increase in manufacturing employment during the past few years. There has been a general reduction in employment in most FSIC groups. The manufacturing employment figures, coupled with the rapidly increasing urban population, indicate a deteriorating socio-economic environment in the Suva area.
Only for the fourth measure listed above can a comprehensive set of data be compiled on the size of industries in the Suva City area. SCC provided data on business licences that have been issued, and which were tabulated by this study. But even that list is not all- inclusive of commercial activity in Suva area. It only covers Suva City, and not the rest of the Greater Suva area. Many of the new industrial areas are outside the boundaries of the City. Furthermore, many businesses operate outside the formal sector and the indications are that their numbers are increasing in the Suva area. The aggregation of such informal business activities has a significant role in the economy. However, they are usually small and dispersed, and probably do not have a significant impact on the environment of Suva.
Source: Bureau of Statistics, 1993 Employment Survey.
Note: 1996 figures taken from unpublished data supplied by the Bureau of Statistics.
The business licence data for Suva City indicate that as of May 1997, there were a total of 4,529 licensed businesses (table 4). The 1997 data are also compared with the same categories in 1991. The type of economic activities vary widely. Under the SCC License Fee Schedule, there are over 240 different types of business activities operating in Suva. Many of those activities, particularly in the service sector, have little or no impact on the environment. For example, the activities of professionals such as accountants, agents, consultants, dealers, engineers, hawkers etc. account for more than 30 per cent of the licences issued by SCC for business operations. Service area activities have shown a growth of 34 per cent since 1971. Some service businesses produce waste or handle hazardous products which may have an impact on the environment. They include cleaning services, painting and car repairs. There has been no growth in the number of those types of business since 1991. The main business sectors that pollute and cause other environmental problems are in the public transport sector and, in some cases, manufacturing. The number of bus companies has increased by only 3 per cent (33 to 34) since 1991. However, the number of buses in operation has increased significantly. The largest growth in business licences has been for taxis (57 per cent) since 1991. Taxis, many with poorly maintained diesel engines, are among the worst polluters.
Note: N = nil; L = low; M = medium; H = high
1. Public transport sector
Taxi proprietorship is the most common business type in Suva; over 1,100 licensed businesses operate in Suva City, accounting for almost 25 per cent of all business licences issued. A significant number of the proprietors have more than one taxi. Furthermore, many of the taxis that operate in the Greater Suva area are based outside the city limits and thus do not require SCC business licences.
The travelling public in Suva has benefited from the plentiful supply of taxis. A combination of supply and price regulation has meant the fares are kept at a low level by world standards. However, the benefits have been at considerable cost to the community. Low returns and lack of regulatory enforcement have meant that most taxis are old and maintenance levels are low. All taxis use diesel fuel which is by far the cheapest fuel as a result of the tax structure on petroleum products. Diesel, when combined with poor engine maintenance, is also the most polluting fuel. Consequently, smoky vehicle exhausts, particularly from taxis and buses, are the most common and offensive forms of pollution in the urban areas of Fiji. Although offenders can be prosecuted under the Public Health Act and the air pollution provisions of the Traffic Regulations, the political and bureaucratic commitment to enforce those laws does not exist. It is encouraging, nevertheless, that a decision has been made to phase in the introduction of lead-free petroleum. According to the Sustainable Development Bill "after the 31 December 1999, no petrol which would, if tested at a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, contain lead in excess of 0.25 grams per litre, shall be imported into Fiji, or sold for use in any motor vehicle". In response, one oil company recently made available, for the first time, lead-free petrol.
Suva has for many years benefited from a privately operated public transportation system based on buses. The other common form of public transport in Suva is provided by 34 licensed bus operators. To that has to be added numerous legal and illegal mini-bus operators; as with taxis, abundant supply and price regulations has meant a prevailing low price structure. Again, the consequences have been a generally old bus fleet, an overall poor level of maintenance and the universal use of diesel fuel. Consequently, bus exhaust emissions in the congested bus terminal adjacent the Suva market are potentially a major public health hazard. Loaded buses billowing black exhaust fumes as they ply their way up the peninsula to the Tamavua plateau have now become a regular feature of life in Suva. Thus it does not come as a surprise that the State of the Environment Report indicated that pollution from the transport industry had become a major public health concern. Regulations for controlling that problem exist but they are never enforced. It is hoped that this situation will change with the passing of the Sustainable Development Bill.
2. Manufacturing sector
Suva has a relatively large manufacturing industrial sector Under the SCC Business License Schedule for 1997, there are 135 businesses performing 25 different types of manufacturing operations (table 1). Manufacturing activities are often associated with the production of significant levels of pollution and waste. In addition to the manufacturers, 15 factories and three mills have been established within the Suva City boundary.