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Lau Trader readies fourth trip among remote isles

By Timoci Vula SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 29, 2010) – In Fiji, the LAU Trader, which is the newest inter-island vessel servicing the Lau group is preparing for its fourth voyage after its inaugural service two weeks ago following Custom clearance.

[PIR editor’s note: The Lau Islands also called the Lau Group of Fiji are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of the Koro Sea. Of this chain of about one hundred islands and islets, about thirty are inhabited. The Lau Group covers a land area of 188 square miles and has a population of approximately 11,000. The Lau Islands comprise one of fourteen Provinces in Fiji, with its capital at Tubou, at the southern end of the island of Lakeba.]

Three trips have been completed with the fourth trip scheduled for tomorrow to service Kabara, Fulaga, Ogea, Vatoa, Ono-i-Lau and to return via Yasayasa Moala.

Yatu Lau Company chief executive Michael Makasiale said its operation was picking up slowly given it was a new operation.

He said the ship could carry 220 people and 400 tonnes of cargo.

He said the Lau Shipping Company Ltd had scheduled a trip each week.

"So there should be approximately four trips in a month and 48 to 50 trips during the whole of this year," Mr. Makasiale said.

He said the ship's schedule this year was sufficient to ensure a viable position for the ship's operations.

"We will get funds from our operations of course, from receipts of cargo and boat fares," Mr. Makasiale said.

Early this month, the Fiji Islands Maritime Safety Administration (FIMSA) approved the ship to commence its operations after meeting all regulatory requirements relating to occupational, health and safety.

On its first voyage, the Motor Vessel (MV) Lau Trader serviced Lakeba, Nayau and Tuvuca. Its second trip served the same routes but included Moce and Oneata. "It serviced similar routes in its third trip and it also went to Vanuabalavu and Kanacea," he said.

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