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$2m investment

Filipe Naigulevu
Thursday, November 30, 2017

A LEADING local shipping company has added another shipping vessel to its fleet giving more convenience to maritime travellers, particularly to Vanua Levu, this festive season.

Goundar Shipping Ltd welcomed the Lomaiviti Princess V yesterday as it berthed at the Narain Jetty in Suva.

The vessel, which is the company's fifth vessel and is among the largest shipping vessels in the country, was built in 1962 with upgrade works done to it, spans at a length of 130 metres, speed about 16 knots and is capable of carrying about 1500 passengers.

The local shipping company had acquired the 53-year-old Lomaiviti Princess V from international ferry operator BC Ferries — which was previously known as the MV Queen of Nanaimo.

While the final sale price had not been disclosed because of competitive reasons, Goundar Shipping Ltd owner and managing director George Goundar had characterised the acquisition as an investment valued at $2.5 million which included added costs such as fuel and labour.

The ferry was sold this year after a transparent and wide-reaching bid process and also involved an extensive request for expressions of interest, which was widely advertised through an international ship broker and other websites that advertised liquidation sales.

"This is a bonus for the travelling public from Suva, now they can expect a daily service from here every day at 8 o'clock for Savusavu," Mr Goundar said.

"It's a plus for Fiji especially for the travelling public heeding to the outcry during this festive season with overcrowding and the overloading concerns.

"This is our way of responding to the concerns and as far as shipping is concerned, we can say it is better now than six years ago," he said.

Mr Goundar said while their shipping services generally had areas which were lacking, they were "still getting there" with ventures such as the Lomaiviti V.

"Fiji is up there now with the Pacific and other countries. Before we have had smaller vessels, those days are gone as people nowadays want comfort and as a stakeholder we need to provide that service to the public and they enjoy travelling at sea."

Mr Goundar said the vessel had modern features likened to five-star hotels including restaurants, kids play area, and private room.

The vessel had left Canada earlier this month after being given the green light to sail to Fiji after an inspection by the surveyors of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF).

Mr Goundar said the vessel crew also included two experienced Canadian engineers who would be training about 50 local crew on the Lomaiviti Princess V.

Giving more ease of travelling to the public, Mr Goundar said they had also decided to slash their ferry fare prices down by 30 per cent.

The new vessel will be providing daily service to Savusavu and two trips a week to Kadavu.

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