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Call for regulations to hold shipping companies accountable

June 20, 2018 10:49 pm

The Consumer Council of Fiji says the continued disregard for the safety and comfort of passengers on inter-island shipping vessels needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

In a statement, the CCF says numerous complaints are made every year to the Council and it’s apparent that Shipping Companies who operate without regulations on service quality are using this to absolve themselves of their responsibility to consumers.

The Council has recorded 17 complaints since January against shipping companies where issues are systematic in nature.

A recent look at complaints against shipping companies registered by the Council shows the same recurring issues from overloading of vessels to instances of missing and damaged cargo, cancellation and delay of trips/schedules without notices.

The Council says shipping companies have invested heavily in boosting their fleets to make inter-island travel easier but it seems their customer service policies are decades behind.

Consumers pay good money for their services and as such the inter-island shipping travel system needs to be overhauled to make them accountable.

As part of its budget submissions this year, the Council has requested the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) to develop regulations from consumer’s perspective to improve service quality and shipping business practices.

The regulations must clearly reflect the rights and responsibilities of consumers and shipping companies to curtail the issues faced by maritime travellers.