PRIME Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday commissioned government's $4.83million landing craft MSL Sigavou.
Unlike its current six vessels berthed at the government shipyard in Walu Bay, the Sigavou is the first landing craft for government which can unload passengers and cargo on the beachfront instead of berthing at a jetty or a wharf.
In commissioning the 47 metres, 149-tonne landing craft, Commodore Bainimarama said the Government Shipping Services (GSS) was transformed.
"Today marks the start of a remarkable resurgence in the fortunes of the GSS," Commodore Bainimarama said.
"Because in less than a year, no fewer than three new vessels are being commissioned to finally end years of neglect, to finally give ordinary people the level of service they deserve.
"And I'm immensely gratified that my government has been able to do it".
The Sigavou can carry 20 passengers and cargo and will be used to service the Lau and Lomaiviti groups.
Commodore Bainimarama said: "For someone who spent so much of his working life at sea, it's a special thrill to be commissioning a new ship that is going to make such a difference to the lives of so many ordinary Fijians in our maritime communities".
The government expects a second landing craft in April which can cater for 30 passengers.
In January next year, government expects its biggest landing craft that can carry 80 passengers to arrive from Malaysia.
Senior roko tui Lau Joeli Nagera yesterday thanked the government for the initiative taken to assist villages in the Lau Group as well as all maritime islands in the country.
Mr Nagera said most developments in villages in Lau were always delayed because of the unavailability of materials which was mainly caused by transportation problems.
He said the people of Lau could easily transport materials from Suva to their islands because of the newly-commissioned vessel.