‘Did The Ship Shrink?’ – Red Flags Raised Over Ship Registered In Fiji 14 Meters Shorter Than In Canada

Fijian authorities are being called to urgently investigate Goundar’s MV Lomaiviti Princess III amid allegations of falsified safety documentation and concerns over passenger and maritime worker safety.

Fijian passengers and maritime workers may be in life-threatening danger aboard Fiji’s largest ferry fleet. ITF inspectors have received information indicating that Goundar Shipping Limited may have registered the MV Lomaiviti Princess III at 14 metres shorter and with a 2.431 lower gross tonnage that the vessel’s previous registration in Canada under the name ‘MV Queen of Chilliwack’ when Goundar brought the ship to Fiji.

The paperwork discrepancy has meant the ferry has likely not received critical maintenance required for a vessel of its size, nor has it been staffed with crew of required skill and experience according to Fijian regulations and international rules.

MV Lomaiviti Princess III loads at dusk
Image Credits: itfseafarers.org

Fijian authorities are being called to urgently investigate Goundar’s MV Lomaiviti Princess III amid allegations of falsified safety documentation and concerns over passenger and maritime worker safety.

Fijian passengers and maritime workers may be in life-threatening danger aboard Fiji’s largest ferry fleet. ITF inspectors have received information indicating that Goundar Shipping Limited may have registered the MV Lomaiviti Princess III at 14 metres shorter and with a 2.431 lower gross tonnage that the vessel’s previous registration in Canada under the name ‘MV Queen of Chilliwack’ when Goundar brought the ship to Fiji.

The paperwork discrepancy has meant the ferry has likely not received critical maintenance required for a vessel of its size, nor has it been staffed with crew of required skill and experience according to Fijian regulations and international rules.

mv queen of chilliwack
Image Credits: itfseafarers.org

“What this tip-off to the ITF has revealed is that Goundar Shipping’s wrongdoing may not be limited to its widespread exploitation of seafarers, but may also include potentially falsifying official safety documentation and endangering the lives of thousands of passengers who use its services every week,” said Maguire. Goundar Shipping’s seafarer scam was first exposed by the ITF to media in February.

“Did the ship shrink? How does a ship lose 14 metres on the trip from Canada to Fiji? Or is it the case that Fiji’s biggest seafarer scam operator been caught in further wrongdoing: downplaying the size of his new vessel in order to avoid properly maintaining and manning it?”

Goundar Shipping
Image Credits: itfseafarers.org

Seafarers employed on Goundar’s ships told authorities that their wages were docked to pay for personal protective equipment, and that many of the vessels in Goundar’s fleet do not have functioning fire and protective equipment onboard – severely endangering crew and passengers.

Just this week, Fiji’s Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director, Ashwin Raj, confirmed crew came to authorities with more safety concerns. They revealed that at least one of the ship’s radar devices and depth-measuring echo sounders were not operational, risking beaching or stranding of the vessel. The seafarers also told the Director of their concern that Goundar’s ferries are sometimes overloaded, according to reports.

Comparison of MV Queen of Chilliwack and MV Lomaiviti Princess III - Credit ITF
Image Credits: itfseafarers.org

“If the information provided to the ITF is correct, then the lives of passengers and workers aboard these ferries are in serious danger. MSAF needs to immediately suspend Goundar Shipping’s licence to operate until a proper safety assessment can be carried out,” said the ITF’s Maguire.

Maguire said that if the company is proven to have falsified these safety documents, then Goundar’s licence should be permanently revoked and director George Goundar prohibited from owning commercial maritime vessels for life.

Reference: itfseafarers.org

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