Fiji: Government to refurbish idle fleet: Vosanibola

Government will this year refurbish at least three of its fleet that is lying idle at the Government shipyard, says Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, Josefa Vosanibola.

Mr. Vosanibola said he was concerned with the shortage of Government ships available to transport Government officials and hurricane relief to the Cyclone Ami battered islands in Vanua Levu, Lau and Lomaiviti.

Government officials had to hire commercial vessels to carry out surveys in cyclone stricken areas.

The Minister said there were no funds available to salvage the depleted fleet when he assumed the Transport portfolio last year.

However he said the $1 million budgeted for the refurbishment of Government ships this year will be immediately put into effect.

"The refurbishment of the Government fleet will be phased over three years to alleviate the critical transport shortage currently experienced by Government," Mr. Vosanibola said.

"I am disappointed that the three permanent vessels stationed in Labasa, Lakeba and Levuka to service people in outlying islands had been phased out."

He reassured people in the maritime divisions that he would reinstate ships in these centres, including possibly one in Lautoka to serve the Western Division, as soon as the Government fleet is revived.

The Minister said he aimed to improve Fiji's transport system particularly as they relate to Government.

With the improvement in technology, Mr. Vosanibola said he was exploring the feasibility of Government acquiring flying boats and hovercraft, to mention a few, for use in emergencies such as the recent cyclone.