May 21, 2015. Maritime consumers who use inter-island shipping services deserve safe and timely service as they are paying for it. Reiterating its earlier call, the Consumer Council of Fiji is urging the inter-island shipping companies and the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) to re-organize and put some ground rules in place so that consumers do not suffer due to their internal procedures.
The Council is deeply concerned with the recent incident involving passengers who were stranded for more than 6 hours at the Taveuni Jetty because of the delay in the arrival of the ship. This is a serious matter as these delays seem to have now become a norm.
We cannot continue to have this injustice done to the consumers. There were children, women, elderly travelers and farmers with their produce – waiting on a cold night at a jetty to board the ship. While, the Council fully understands the crucial role played by the MSAF, in ensuring that ships are safe to sail, those officials engaged in this exercise together with the shipping companies need to do everything in a timely manner so that consumers’ plight is not compromised.
The ships must depart and arrive as per the time given to the travelers. In times of a delay, the travelers have to look for food and shelter which they had not planned for. Why should consumers go out of pocket when they carried a valid ticket with stipulated time for departure and arrival? In the past, consumers have expressed their disappointment, frustration and distrust in the shipping services because of the change in schedule of travel without notice, delay in departure time, poor and unhygienic conditions of the vessels and refusal of redress by the service providers.
It is time that the stakeholders understand the essence of ‘time’ and get their ‘acts together’ to bring improvements to the present system so that consumers are not made to suffer.