SHIPPING

Small Boat Operators Call On Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji For More Awareness

MSAF stated last week, that the detained boats did not carry safety appliances compulsory for all boats in the country, and did not have survey certificates to indicate that they have been surveyed and classified sea worthy.
02 Aug 2019 16:30
Small Boat Operators Call On Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji For More Awareness
Small boats at Nasali landing on July 29, 2019. Photo: Wati Talebula

Small boat operators operating in Nasali Landing, Rewa have raised their frustration with how Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) had detained eight boats at the Nasali Landing last Monday July 22.

MSAF stated last week, that the detained boats did not carry safety appliances compulsory for all boats in the country, and did not have survey certificates to indicate that they have been surveyed and classified sea worthy.

Following this incident, boat operators operating at Nasali Landing have raised their concerns on the lack of awareness by MSAF for them to know their responsibilities as boat operators.

Call for Awareness

Concerned boat operator Niumaia Veisikovi said MSAF needs to visit their villages for awareness and dialogue hear about the challenges they face on a daily basis.

He said the authorities were harsh and took a very disturbing approach in front of the hundreds that were using the services at the landing on the day.

“They had arrived that morning (Monday) and were very harsh to the boat operators demanding them to pay up spot fines because they were not adhering to safety requirement,” Mr Veisikovi said

“I was one of those that had my boat detained, for me the issue was that I could not pay up for my licence renewal, if we are lucky in a day we can earn up to $30 daily but that can only be for our fuel for the next day and that is a struggle,” he said

“If they visit us and check on our operations every day and witness these struggles then they might have a fair idea of how it is like to operate this business.”

Expensive Safety Gear

He said that it was also a challenge trying to cope up with the safety requirements as safety gear was expensive.

“Having to pay for safety equipments is very expensive. It is our own business and it costs close to $60 to get one life jacket for our boat and you imagine having to buy six to seven for all our passengers.

He added that there was also a need for awareness on passengers as at times they do not adhere to safety regulations.

“When we bring in passengers not all of them would like to put on safety life jackets and we cannot pressure them to do so, this is where MSAF needs to step in, visit the villages, and create awareness so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.”

Response From MSAF

Meanwhile, MSAF acting CEO Captain Phillip Hill said prior to the detainment of the small boats from Nasali, operation awareness was carried out including training for Boat Master licences. Visits were made to the landing asking boat operators to get their boats licensed.

Captain Hill said the safety of passengers and boat operators was their priority and they would continue to ensure that safety regulations were adhered to.

“The Rewa River boats are providing an excellent service to the villagers and communities. MSAF only requires that they adhere to safety requirements for small boat commercial operators,” he said

“The safety culture is required to be instilled in all boat operators to ensure the passengers are provided with a level of safety during all river crossings.

“The MSAF is mindful of the fact that this is the mode of transport for villagers and communities along the Rewa River and would like to ensure that boats are regularised.

“It is a concern for the Authority considering that all licensed boat masters know that they need to have safety equipment on board their boats at all times, especially if they are carrying passengers.”

He concluded that after that operation MSAF has had positive feedback with 35 boat operators paying for their boats to be surveyed and registered.

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

Fijisun E-edition
Tanoa Waterfront Lautoka Fiji
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: