Fiji Port Signs $5.9 Million Deal To Improve Operations

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PM says better ports can make for a more competitive Fiji

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 30, 2013) – Fiji’s ports need to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible to ensure trade flows more freely and more cheaply for the benefit of all Fijians.

These were the words of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama during the signing of a FJ$10.353 million [US$5.9 million] agreement between Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and Aitken Spence, a Sri Lankan company.

Bainimarama said the signing of agreements between the two companies will improve the performance of Fiji’s two biggest ports in Suva and Lautoka.

"The alliance we are signing today is undoubtedly one of the most significant to improve the operating performance of the container installations of Suva and Lautoka through a Public Private Partnership between the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ports Terminal Limited and Aitken Spence of Sri Lanka," Bainimarama said.

"Regrettably, their poor performance has been hampering that development. In fact, their performance has been so poor that shipping companies have imposed special levies on their voyages to Fiji that have pushed up the cost of our imports and exports."

"There’s been far too much corruption on our wharves, far too much sabotage when certain people don’t get what they want. We’ve seen far too many restrictive and outdated work practices, far too much over-manning, far too much resistance to change."

"We need better turnaround times for ships visiting our ports. We need to make Fiji more competitive, more attractive as a trans-shipment hub for other places in the Pacific. And we can only do this by lifting performance standards in Suva and Lautoka," Bainimarama said.

Meanwhile, Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprise Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said there were three agreements signed yesterday firstly the shareholders agreement, concession agreement and the sales agreement.

Sayed-Khaiyum said following independent evaluation the shares were sold at FJ$10.353 million and the agreements will ensure that Fiji have an international benchmarking and standards introduced to the two main ports.

The Sri Lankan company has been involved in handling cargo and other maritime services for more than hundred years.

From small origins in British Ceylon in 1868, it has evolved into Sri Lanka’s biggest maritime logistics firm - a blue chip company at home and an important global player, operating throughout South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

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