No Overloading MSAF Warns
The Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) will closely monitor passenger ships this festive season to ensure there is no overloading or any other breaches of the Maritime Legislations which endanger passengers and crew.
“Overloading of passenger ships is an offence and is unsafe, and Ship owners/Operators/Masters who engage in this practice are liable to face criminal charges and administrative action in accordance with the Maritime Transport Decree, 2013,” MSAF Chief Executive Officer, John Tunidau said.
He said all ships must also ensure they had all the required Life Saving Equipment such as life jackets and life rafts and passengers and crew were made aware on how to access them during emergencies.
Furthermore non-compliance with the Maritime Legislation he said could result in criminal prosecution, suspension or cancellation of master’s Certification of Competency, detention of the ship and up to $100,000 in fines.
He reminds members of the public who are travelling to outer islands to also urge to heed safety rules and precautionary measures when travelling on inter-island ships.
Meanwhile Ms. Premila Kumar, the Chief Executive Officer
Consumer Council of Fiji is also urging the MSAF Fiji to take necessary proactive steps to keep these ships in check for passenger safety.
According to Ms Kumar overloading of vessels is a common problem during holiday period. Shipping companies add more cargoes and passengers which surpasses the vessels capacities only to make more money. Such disregard to passenger safety must be condoned by regulators and consumers alike.
“The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging inter- island shipping companies to follow the time-table and ensure that consumers reach their destinations safely and also on time.”
Over the years, she said the Council had received complaints and concerns from passengers regarding delays, cancellation of services without prior notice, overcrowding, missing luggage and other personal items.
The Council she adds is calling on shipping companies to monitor their ticket sale to gauge the number of passengers they can carry on board. They need to coordinate with their various ticket agents to keep a tab on their ticket sales to avoid consumer dissatisfaction and curb the issue of passengers stranded at wharfs and overloading of vessels which is a safety risk. Consumers she said should not be placed in such compromising situation where they had spent nights at the wharfs waiting in vain or they spent more money to buy tickets with another shipping agency to travel to their destinations.
Despite paying the legitimate fare, she said some passengers were made to travel without a proper seat. They were crammed up in the corridors and in areas where passengers should not sit. “Traveler’s deserved better when they pay for the services.”
The ship-owners contacted by Fiji Sun said they were aware of Maritime Legislations and assured their passengers they would be looked after properly.
They agreed that there would be no over loading.