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No Sail! Goundar Shipping Director Claims ‘Dirty Politics’ At Play

“We have a way better SSMS documents than what MSAF want. We have given the documents to MSAF surveyors and it’s a shame that we have to go this way. I am hoping the Government can look into the dirty politics going on here." - GSL Director George Goundar
01 Jul 2019 10:14
No Sail! Goundar Shipping Director Claims ‘Dirty Politics’ At Play
Goundar Shipping Limited director George Goundar.

Goundar Shipping Limited’s (GSL) director, George Goundar, is outraged that all his vessels will not be able to sail out today, as ordered by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF).

Speaking to Fiji Sun from Japan, Mr Goundar said he was not pleased that MSAF had singled them out from the other shipping companies.

MSAF has ordered that GSL will not operate from today until it complies with the Maritime (Safe Ships Management) Regulation 2014. The regulation was introduced in 2014, and comes into effect today. The order means that hundreds of employees, and business operations will be affected and passengers who love to travel with GSL will need to make new arrangements with other local shipping companies.

Goundar Shipping operates eight vessels that ferry cars, trucks and passengers from Suva to Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Koro and other islands.

In response to the regulation, Mr Goundar told Fiji Sun: “We have a way better SSMS documents than what MSAF want. We have given the documents to MSAF surveyors and it’s a shame that we have to go this way. I am hoping the Government can look into the dirty politics going on here.

He said he hoped the travelling public calls MSAF about the disruptions to services.

“I don’t really care about MSAF’s dirty politics and MSAF knows I am out off country.”

MSAF’s manager qualification and licensing, Captain Tomasi Kete, told Fiji Sun that GSL had sent them an email last week requesting a four-months extension to comply with the regulation.

Captain Kete said the MSAF regulation was introduced in 2014, and since then, they had constantly reminded shipping owners to comply with it.

A reminder was sent in January 2017 and again in July last year. MSAF even arranged training, which could guide shipping owners in understanding the regulation. The SSMS regulation comes into effect today.

Captain Kete said that four months would be a long period so he doubted that Mr Goundar would wait that long before he could comply.

MSAF said it would only allow GSL to continue with its services as and when it complied with the SSMS.

So far only 10 local shipping companies have complied with the regulation. MSAF said all 10 companies have shown suitable level of compliance and will be issued interim document of compliance and interim safe ship management certificates upon payment of the two certificates.

The 10 companies include:

1. Patterson Brothers Shipping Limited;

2. Victoria Marine Limited;

3. Valesasa Shipping Company;

4. Government Shipping

Services

5. Naos Shipping Limited;

6. South Sea Cruises;

7. Captain Cook Cruises;

8. IME Capital;

9. Leeward Operations; and

10. Amex Engineering Limited

MSAF is calling on the travelling public and cargo shippers to make necessary travel arrangements with other shipping companies that have complied with the SSMS (Safety Ships Management System).

The SSMS is a domesticated version of the International Safety Management (ISM) code, which is part of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) implemented by the International Maritime Organisation (IMF) and ratified by the Fijian Government.

Questions sent to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, Jone Usamate, and Minister for Employment Parveen Bala, remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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