Economic downturn on islands ‘a challenge’

Director of Victoria Marine Ltd Joe Tagi on his way to make his submissions to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources at the parliament complex in Suva. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

LOCAL businesswoman Leba Mataitini said the lack of interest by family members and difficulty in accessing finance led to the closure of her family shipping business which used to service the Lau Group.

She highlighted the issue yesterday while making submissions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the need for affordable and safe shipping services to the Lau Group.

Ms Mataitini said her family from Naividamu Village, Fulaga, used to operate Saliabasaga Shipping in the late 1990s through the Government franchise scheme before it closed down in 2000.

The company operated the MV Tunatuki II — capable of carrying 100 passengers — and covered the Lau Group and Rotuma.

She said her family struggled to maintain the ship because they did not have the funds to do it.

Ms Mataitini added they were in need of $150,000 to fully rehabilitate the vessel but there was no one to help them.

“In order to avoid an accident we tried to fix the ship, but since there was no one to help us. We closed it down,” she said.

“The idea was to provide reliable and safe shipping services for villagers travelling to Lau.

“None of our younger generation had the interest and drive to continue the shipping business so we returned the ship to the Fiji Development Bank and closed down the business.”

More Stories