SHIPPING

Ship Operators Upset With New Fares, Freight Charges

Goundar Shipping Limited (GSL) and Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited (PBSCL) are not happy with the new inter-island shipping fares and freight charges effective from tomorrow, January 2, 2020. The
01 Jan 2020 11:19
Ship Operators Upset With New Fares, Freight Charges
Goundar shipping vessels taking refuge at the Suva Harbour on December 31, 2019 during TC Sarai. Photo: Susana Tuilau

Goundar Shipping Limited (GSL) and Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited (PBSCL) are not happy with the new inter-island shipping fares and freight charges effective from tomorrow, January 2, 2020.

The new freight and fare charges are in the exercise of the Section 39 of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) Act 2010.

The date of issue was November 22, 2019 and the order expires on December 31, 2022 unless the order is varied, extended or earlier revoked.

The new fare charges state that children under the age of five are free to travel.

The new freight charges, states that the general cargo freight rates for economical routes are now charged per kilogram (kg), tonnes and per cubic meter.

For example, Suva-Kadavu per kilo is 0.11, per tonne is 110.90 and per cubic meter is 100.47 with 9 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT).

In the economical franchise routes is also charged per kilo, tonnes and per cubic meter.

For example, Yasayasa Moala per kilo is 0.07, per tonne – 74.88 and per cubic meter – 67.30 with 9 per cent VAT for each.

The current price control order allows vessel operators to charge prices for general freight based on either the volume (space) or weight.

FCCC mandates shipping opera­tors to install weighing machine to measure proper weights of goods in order to have appropriate pricing for consumers also for ship operator’s records.

GSL Managing Director George Goundar and PBSCL General Manager David Patterson disagreed with FCCC.

“There was no consultation done and we should have had a consulta­tion. It is my concern that before it was free for children under the age of two but now it is under the age of five,” Mr Goundar said.

“Everything is gone up and now this. I am really disappointed,” he said.

“We have been crying the last five years to renew the freight because it didn’t make sense.

“Now they send this yesterday af­ternoon (Monday) and it comes into effect on January 2 without proper consultation.

“If I am coming from Lau with 500 or 600 bags the how do I weight. It will take me a long time to weigh all of them.

“When farmers want to take cows or horses across then how do we weigh them.

“We want something simple and this new order is not something sim­ple.”

“Contrary to MSAF regulation says that a child over one year must be on the manifest so these two regu­latory bodies needs to get together and get their story straight,” Mr Patterson said.

“One is saying one year and anoth­er is saying under five years.

“There was no consultation done in regards to children under the age of five to be free.

“I have not emailed or got back to them because I thought that it was a mistake on their part because it did not make sense so we will go ac­cording to the one that was given out last year which was the three years’ restrictions.

“If anything, else we will challenge because it is unrealistic.”

The Ellington routes to Savusavu and Nabouwalu are obviously not included in the authorisation.

However, the conditions of the au­thorisation stated that for any routes which are not included in the au­thorisation or new routes that may evolve in the future, the shipping companies (in this case GSL and PBSCL) are to make submissions to the Commission for the authori­sation of the passengers fares and freight rates before implementation of any rates or fares.

Feedback: wati.talebula@fijisun.com.fj

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