SHIPPING

MP Qereqeretabua Concerned About Safety Of Inter-Island Shipping Opposition

Ms Qereqeretabua highlighted that the lives of passengers on inter-island vessels were no less valuable than the lives of those who travel on planes.
22 May 2019 09:04
MP Qereqeretabua Concerned About Safety Of Inter-Island Shipping Opposition
National Federation Party parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua.

Member of Parliament, Lenora Qereqeretabua has raised her concerns in regards to the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji’s (MSAF) stringent surveillance on the safety of inter-island shipping.

She raised her concerns in Parliament last week Friday.

Ms Qereqeretabua highlighted that the lives of passengers on inter-island vessels were no less valuable than the lives of those who travel on planes.

“On Good Friday, more than 30 relatives of mine were on their way to my village when the accident occurred on the ferry, they were travelling in. We are grateful that nothing much has happened,” Ms Qereqeretabu said.

“I have had conversations with some of these relatives of mine and members of the industry since the incident. Now I understand that MSAF surveys vessels when they come up in the slip way and before they go back into the water,” she said.

“Only MSAF can authorise the vessels to be put back into the water and to depart from a port to go on a journey. Marine checkers have a vital and potentially lifesaving job allowing or denying vessels clearances to depart a port.

“Allowing a vessel to depart whilst overloaded or in any way breach of rules or laws that governs MSAF and its Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) should be treated harshly by the law.

“Having said all that, inter-island ferry service is vital. The owners/ operators of Fiji’s ferry services are supplying an essential service. The financial burden on them is huge, they have ships to pay off, maintain, pay licenses, crews, fuel and other overheads to pay for.

“Majority of the passengers are poor, a low- or middle-income earners who because of lack of choice or lack of the financial means to afford a better way to travel put up with it.

“Yes, we complain at tikina and yasana meetings. Many posted photos of the realities onboard vessels in the hope that someone will help them. Some even succeed in getting petitions to the right hands but most continue to put up with it and this should not be so.”

Responding to this, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services Jone Usamate said the issue of maritime safety is something that is dear all of us and is certainly dear to this Government.

“The issue of maritime safety is something that is dear to everyone and this Government. To an extent where we have set up a regulatory body that is tasked to look after this,” Mr Usamate said.

“We have set up the marine department; we have set up the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji to basically to look at this issue. They have implemented a lot of things we need to do to make sure that we maintain the safety of the people,” he said.

“This Government treats all the maritime shipping vessels that goes to the maritime islands as utmost important. Within MSAF, there is a lot of things that have been put in place and they have included a lot of regulations which includes the safety of life regulations, maritime coasting, trade regulations, maritime pollution prevention and emergency procedures. All of these regulations and requirements have been put in place to make sure that people are put in place.”

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