SUNBIZ

The Devil InThe Belly Of A Bank Line

The inter-island shipping and the ferry business is a multi-million dollar industry which provides its services right around the country. And like everything else in this day and age, this
10 Dec 2015 16:40
The Devil InThe Belly Of A Bank Line

The inter-island shipping and the ferry business is a multi-million dollar industry which provides its services right around the country. And like everything else in this day and age, this particular industry has become part of consumer’s lives.

As we are now in the festive season there is going to be a huge movement of people to the islands where they will spend Christmas and also welcome the New Year with their families.  Similarly, many from the islands will be travelling to the main centres to attend to traditional obligations as well.

According to council, many consumers also opt to use shipping services simply because it accommodates more luggage capacity and is cheaper when compared to other mode of transportation. Consumers are also able to send larger packages, items such as cement, furniture, yaqona and root crops to loved ones in the outer islands.

However, the council through the complaints received has noted that many consumers are inconvenienced due to lack of quality and efficient services. Consumers are voicing their disappointment, frustration and distrust in the shipping services. Some ships servicing the inter–island routes have been found to be providing services that are not up to standard, which is of a great concern.

Consumers have to put up with loss of their belongings, change in schedule of travel without notice, delay in departure time, poor and unhygienic conditions of the vessels and refusal of redress by the service providers.

The council stated what is more frustrating is that when scheduled trips are cancelled, consumers are given the run around before a refund is provided. The council has noted that some shipping companies force consumers to re-schedule their trips which defeat the purpose of their initial trips which is time bound. In most cases consumers intend to travel to attend to weddings, other family functions, work related meetings, etc and when the trips are cancelled for some reason by the shipping companies, these consumers are not able to attend these functions.

The council appreciates the reform being undertaken by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji in ensuring that shipping companies comply with the safety standards.  However, there is need for improvement and stronger regulations to ensure that consumers receive timely redress should they encounter problems as highlighted above.

The council continues to remind consumers travelling by shipping services to take extra precaution in order to avoid disappointments. Advice is also given to consumers to act promptly in notifying relevant authorities should they come across situations such as, loss of luggage, sudden cancellations without notice and refusal of refunds.



FS TAUBMANS


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