Tide Dictates Vessel Berthing

Tide has been dictating the berthing of Lomaiviti Princess V at the Suva and Mua-i-walu ports the last five weeks. Then the delays from authorities to advise when to berth
17 Jan 2018 11:00
Tide Dictates Vessel Berthing
Lomaiviti Princess V in the Suva Harbour on November 29, 2017. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

Tide has been dictating the berthing of Lomaiviti Princess V at the Suva and Mua-i-walu ports the last five weeks.

Then the delays from authorities to advise when to berth are frus­trating so says Goundar Shipping Limited managing director George Goundar.

Mr Goundar owns a fleet of ships with the latest inclusion of the gigantic more than 1000-seater Lomaiviti Princess V.

An inter-island vessel of its mag­nitude, Lomaiviti Princess V has been offloading vehicles at the Suva Port the past five weeks and then of­floading passengers at the Mua-i-walu wharf according to the tides.

This has affected the vessel’s trav­el time as it needs to get clearance from the Fiji Ports Corporation every time it returns to Suva.

“Even though the authority has been advised of our trips, they take their time to respond; the tide dic­tates when we offload vehicles at the main wharf and passengers at the Mua-i-Walu (Narain Jetty),” a frustrated Mr Goundar said.

Questions sent to Fiji Ports Corporation Limited were not an­swered when this edition went to press.

“It is a constant battle the com­pany has been facing, part of it is attributed to misinformation and to a degree, a little misunderstand­ing,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Goundar hopes to bring in a change in attitude of sea travellers who still prefer to come in their vessels with mats to sleep on isles, pathways and passages.

“Seats are provided for our pas­sengers, who unfortunately, prefer to spread mats in passageways and aisles to rest during the duration of the trip,” he said.

“Congestion and overcrowding” is largely due to passenger’s refusal to use seats which they had purchase and we have the responsibility of providing for.

“We realise that that part of run­ning this company is to educate the public on the laws surrounding sea travel, even down to breaking down the technicalities, it is an added burden to us but we welcome the challenge in the interest of build­ing a good relationship with our customers.

“The seats in the vessel are more than adequate to provide a com­fortable voyage. Sea travel is no different from air travel – you buy a seat, you get a seat, you are free to take breaks to walk and get fresh air, you return to your seat to relax or take a short sleep, our ships ad­equately provide for this.

“If in air travel, passengers accept the discomfort of folded legs over extended periods of time, imagine what we as a shipping company have to endure with the unrea­sonable expectation from our pas­sengers , in our case, they can take walks to get circulation going, even step out to get fresh air.

“One would not take a mat into an aircraft in economy class to de­mand sleep as one would in one’s home. My company expects the same courtesy from passengers; that they use the comfortable seat­ing I am required by law to provide, and which I am providing. I attrib­ute this to a lack of information which leads to this misunderstand­ing and unreasonable expectation which exists in the public’s eye. However, it is through coverage from the media which can help edu­cate and bridge this gap.”

“Our manifest (passenger list­ing) shows we have not sold tickets above our carrying capacity and in no way over-charging fare,” he added.

Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission chief executive officer Joel Abraham said officers will monitor and investigate claims of overcharging of fares.

“Officers will be sent to the scene to investigate on the issue. Currently, I cannot divulge any other information,” Mr Abraham said.

Mr Goundar also highlighted pas­sengers’ refusal to adhere hand lug­gage instructions.

“The core reason behind this is to ensure passenger safety should an emergency arise. The same princi­ple that applies to air travel applies to sea travel. Yet, passengers shove their way through with four to five bags in hand luggage coupled with mats to spread in our lounges which have the allocated seats,” he said.

“Every voyage is preceded by an audio announcement of safety pre­cautions through the intercom sys­tem, “he said.

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