Call to review shipping routes classification

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Villagers in Gau call for review of the classification of shipping routes. Picture: FILE

Villagers on Gau Island have called on the Government to review the classification of shipping routes.

During a talanoa session with Attorney-General Siromi Turaga, Nawaikama villager Kelepi Delaimataitoga said under classification of shipping routes, Gau was identified as an uneconomical route.

He said this in return, made the price of boat fare from Suva higher than islands further from Suva.

“We pay $80 fare, whereas if you’re travelling to Koro Island it is $50, they are further from Suva than us,” Mr Delaimataitoga said.

“So, we have brought this up in this talanoa session asking if we can have this reviewed.”

In response, Mr Turaga said one of the government plans was to decentralise services, particularly in the maritime islands.

“Today we talked about the 2017 record by the Ministry of Transport, that’s says it is an uneconomical travel to come to Gau and that’s why they pay $80,” Mr Turaga said.

“I mean it is 2017 data.

“So basically, since the data has not been reviewed, Gau and Nairai suffers from paying higher fare of $80 although they are closer to Suva than Koro, people from Koro pay $50.”

Mr Turaga said there was also the issue with providing clean and safe services for the passengers.

“When you provide a shipping service, you are expected to provide comfort.

“If you travel to Lomaiviti, it is a very sad state, so what we’ve been urging is for the authorities to take some action.”

He said over the past four years, there had been high economic activity in Gau.

“Things have changed, there is a high economic activity in Gau — I’ve heard there are about 10 trucks on the island.

“And there can be more, but the road is in a really bad state, so we need Fiji Roads Authority to come in and improve.

“I’m told people will also get their vehicles from Suva, so imagine if we have 25 vehicles here in Gau.”

Mr Turaga completed his official tour of Gau and Nairai Island in Lomaiviti last Saturday.

Government officials from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Commission, Fiji Police Force and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection were also part of the talanoa session, raising awareness of the services they provide.

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