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Fiji Time: 4:14 AM on Friday 25 April

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Ships seek lights

Tevita Vuibau
Saturday, January 12, 2013

SHIPPING companies are calling for more to be done to provide proper beacons and lighthouses in the country after spending years operating without the essential maritime aid.

And this is despite paying an annual levy to the former Fiji Islands Maritime Authority for a service that is non-existent.

Speaking to this newspaper, Seaview Shipping Services managing director Durga Prasad said in the Lau Group — his main area of operations — lighthouses and beacons were a luxury.

"From Suva to Lakeba there are no beacons or lighthouses. Even on Moala, Totoya and Matuku there is none," he said.

"The whole upper southern Lau Group has neither lighthouses nor beacons and still we have to pay lighthouse dues.

"This is not right, to charge these fees when the services are not provided," he said.

Mr Prasad said he was lucky to have a compass and navigational aid on board his vessel, however other vessels without the equipment were putting themselves at the mercy of the sea.

Questions sent six weeks ago to the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF), which is levying the fees remained unanswered.

Subsequent attempts to follow up the questions and to gain verification on MSAFs position were also unsuccessful.

Goundar Shipping services director, George Goundar echoed the views of Mr Prasad saying his company was paying thousands of dollars for the lighthouse and beacon levy, in spite of there being very few in use.

"Now we don't know where this money is going but we have to pay it because if we do not, MSAF threatens to seize our vessels."