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Kean Tells Of Challenges

The Government Shipping Franchise Scheme (GSFS) has been doing all it can to service all the 10 routes under the scheme. Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Commander Francis Kean
12 Nov 2014 14:51
Kean Tells Of Challenges

The Government Shipping Franchise Scheme (GSFS) has been doing all it can to service all the 10 routes under the scheme.
Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Commander Francis Kean said the shortage of ships had been a drawback to the servicing of some of these routes, in particular two.

“Mechanical problems on some contracted ships have also contributed to some of the delays currently encountered,” he said.

“We are thankful to Government Shipping Services (GSS) for providing MV Rogovoka II to assist in the GSFS. MV Rogovoka II recently returned from Rotuma on a franchise route due to shortage of ships. We are also negotiating with another shipping company to undertake the Northern Lau 1 route (Vanuabalavu and Cicia) due to the unavailability of Lomaiviti Princess II.”

Mr Kean said the Department of Transport under the ministry is managing the scheme well to ensure that the 10 routes are serviced on a monthly basis.

“Once the Lomaiviti Princess II is back in operations this should restore service to the Northern Lau 1 route. However, we also understand that the route has been serviced by other ships not under the GSFS.”

He indicated that there is nothing to stop other ships from sailing to the Lau Group.

“These ships are normally cleared by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) prior to departure therefore the operational status of these ships must first satisfy the MSAF survey criteria.”

Mr Kean said they would encourage these ship operators to sail more often to the Lau Group as it would be good for the economy activity in the islands.

“I understand that Captain Cook Cruises does a trip to some of the islands in the Lau Group under one of their cruises. This is a huge boost to the economies in these islands and also allows our overseas visitors to get a better glimpse and taste of the real Fiji. In summary this is a commercial decision for the ship operators if they can provide these services,” he added.

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