NEWS

Weight Restrictions On Section Of Wharf Causes Outrage By Ship Operator

Fiji Ports Corporation Limited has implemented weight restrictions on one part of Port Mua-i-Walu in light of the ‘repair works’ it is carrying out. A circular dated December 22 acquired
28 Dec 2017 12:06
Weight Restrictions On Section Of  Wharf Causes Outrage By Ship Operator
Goundar Shipping Limited managing director George Goundar

Fiji Ports Corporation Limited has implemented weight restrictions on one part of Port Mua-i-Walu in light of the ‘repair works’ it is carrying out.

A circular dated December 22 acquired by Fiji Sun and signed by FPCL harbour master/acting chief operating officer Captain Laisiasa Gonewai said: “In reference to the Wharf Assessments conducted for Muaiwalu 2 by our Consultant, I wish to advise you that we will be restricting Muaiwalu 2 wharf weight bearing to 5t per sq/mtr.”

This means that roll-on/roll-off ships will only be permitted to bring-in cargo falling within the weight limitations.

Chief executive officer Vajira Piyasena confirmed this yesterday following outrage from Goundar Shipping Limited managing director George Goundar, saying the move was a major blow for his shipping service and employees.

Mr Piyasena said: “This recommendation from the engineering report came well before peak traffic Christmas season but FPCL delayed the implementation as this would have caused enormous hardships to ship operators and especially to the public using this facility during the Christmas time.

“Now the rush is over, we will be implementing the recommendation.”

When asked to comment on the move affecting boat owners, he said: “Yes we understand that however, due to current structural conditions we have no option but to enforce this restriction while we carry out necessary repair work.

“Ship operators may have to find an alternate arrangement such as using Natovi Jetty during the period that we do urgent repair work at Mua-i-Walu 2.”

The circular further said: “This is an urgent matter which needs your co-operation to minimise harm to the infrastructure of the wharf.”

But Mr Goundar who operates specifically out of Mua-i-Walu 2 and employs 200 people argued: “I’m out of business; basically I just have to anchor my ship out at sea and let the Government decide what they want to do.

“I had a meeting with them (FPCL) today and they’re saying it’s just a small portion of the wharf but that’s the area where I operate and it affects my operation of my vessels.

“I cannot operate. I have to tie my vessels up. There is no point because no one is going to send just a five tonne truck as cargo.”

The action comes at a time when the authority and Goundar Shipping have been butting heads over major delays at the jetty involving multiple ships last Friday.

While Mr Piyasena had accused ship owners for not following schedules, Mr Goundar questioned the authority’s handling of operations at the wharf.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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