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Need for upgrade

Ana Madigibuli
Thursday, November 22, 2012

THE Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities with the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji is pursuing ways and means of improving the status of the maritime college.

This was revealed by the permanent secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities Commander Francis Kean last week at the National Transport Consultation Forum in Suva.

Cdr Kean said there was a huge demand for Fiji's seafarers in the international market.

However, he said, there were some serious issues which the Fiji National University needed to address to bring the maritime college up to international best practice and provide an avenue for many young school leavers who wished to pursue a career at sea.

"A recent memorandum of understanding with the United Arab Emirates for our seafarers looks positive and government should be concluding this agreement in the foreseeable future," Cdr Kean said.

"The economic returns of establishing the maritime college against international best practice to capture our fair share of international seafaring job market are stupendous.

"We all know the benefits of such a strategy in countries like the Philippines, Kiribati and other small island states which were once reliant on Fiji for the professional seafaring developments have now surpassed us in this industry."

Cdr Kean said if the national transport sector was to continue to perform better in the future, "it is imperative that we work together whether it is land or maritime".

"We all have our different views and opinions however, it is paramount that in all our deliberations and discussions keep the national interest at heart," he said.

The maritime college is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and the Fiji National University.

Fiji National University vice chancellor, Doctor Ganesh Chand said the maritime college suffered from a lack of investment for over two decades during which period no capital development had taken place at the school.

Dr Chand said government had now prioritised development of the maritime sector and maritime training.

"To this end, it has allocated funds to upgrade equipment and facilities at the school," he said.

"FNU has already ordered a state-of-the-art maritime simulator (called full mission bridge and engine room simulator), which cost over $2million.

"The equipment will be commissioned by April 2013." Dr Chand said government also agreed to provide funds for facilities upgrade at the school and the developments would place FNU's Maritime School as one of the leading maritime training institutions in the world.

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