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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 2) - Thirty-four derelict vessels have been cleared from the Suva harbor since the Fiji Ports Corporation embarked on the exercise last year. Fiji Ports Corporation Limited general manager marketing and commercial Lavinia Kaumaitotoya said her team, with the help of their contractors, Works Boats Fiji Limited, had made good progress, which was evident in the fact that only 10 derelict vessels remain in the harbor.

"There were 54 vessels when we carried out our first audit. The list came down after enforcement and diligent follow through," she said. "There are 10 now, of which four are being scrapped. This list includes those vessels afloat."

Ms. Kaumaitotoya said carrying out the audit work was the first phase and every time an audit was done, the boat owners repaid and took care of their boats. This, she said, had brought down the figures. FPCL took care of the remaining ships that were abandoned by their owners.

The scrapping of ships had begun last year but Kaumaitotoya could not confirm how long it would take to remove the remaining ships. She said the exercise was time-consuming. Kaumaitotoya said the absence of BOC gas, which is needed to do the job, was causing delays. She said the cost of scrapping one vessel was close to FJ$20,000, [US$12,000] depending on the size of the vessel and the work to be done.

"Some ships were upgraded since our follow through last year on seaworthiness and have received certification. Approvals from district office eastern were not forthcoming thus the alternative was to scrap the ships," she said.

Three of the remaining vessels have been cut up whilst the fourth is being worked on now.

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