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Allegations By Council Not True: Goundar

Allegations By Council Not True: Goundar
Goundar Shipping owner George Goundar.
June 27
10:00 2018


Allegations by the Consumer Council of Fiji that passengers on Lomaiviti Princess V had waited on the vessel for six hours  could not disembark to buy food for six hours was an outright lie, said Goundar Shipping owner George Goundar.

“It is totally upsetting,” Mr Goundar said.

He said the loading of vehicles on the vessel was sporadic after 6pm which was the only time passengers were controlled in embarking or disembarking the vessel during that time.

“The about 400 passengers loaded the vessel at 4pm and between then and when the vessel left about 10pm they went back and forth on the Muaiwalu Jetty,” Mr Goundar said.

In a statement by the Consumer Council of Fiji, chief executive officer Premila Kumar said the council had recorded 17 complaints since January against shipping companies where issues were systematic in nature.

She said complaints showed “the same recurring issues from overloading of vessels to instances of missing and damaged cargo, cancellation and delay of trips/schedules without notices”.

Ms Kumar said a passenger on the Lomaiviti Princess V also complained that the cost of meals on board was expensive.

According to Mr Goundar, meals on board were served by a subcontracted catering firm which made good meals with reasonable pricing.

“The meals are around $8-10 a full meal and was reasonable compared to serves in restaurants on land,” he said.

He said the travelling of about 30,000 people annually was not an easy feat and logistics in departure times included several factors including high and low tides and loading vehicles with much needed groceries for maritime consumers.

“Our ships which carry quite a big volume of passengers cannot load or offload at any time because it depended on the tides; at low tide the ramp for vehicles and passengers tilt at a dangerous angle,” he said.

“We have to wait for high tide and then vehicles carrying groceries did not arrive until after 6pm on the day in question which sometimes is out of our hands.”

Mr Goundar said the complaints that the overloading would not be realistic as the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji had stringent regulation and checked the vessels before departure.

He suggested that Ms Kumar had a meeting with the shipping stakeholders to verify and sort out the complaints by a few passengers.

He said the passengers chose to sleep on the decks of the vessel because they felt more comfortable on the deck than sleeping on the deck chairs.

“If the passengers prefer to sleep on the decks instead of the provided chairs; it’s their choice,” he said.

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