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Archived News: July 2006

From Fijitimes Online (31 July 2006)

Freddy Fesaitu roots for Jesus

This item has been transferred to the Life Stories section of the website

(31 July 2006)

Congratulations to Rotuman lass Fiona Sesepi of Latter Day Saints School, who won the best actress award for her role in the film Price For The Bully, which was shown at the first ever Kula Film Festival in Suva. The festival was sponsored by the Fiji Audio Visual Commission. Go to the complete article Fijitimes Online.

From Fijitimes Online (30 July 2006)

Church sets $1m target

THE Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma aims to collect $1million at the week-long choir competition at Ratu Cakobau Park next month, says church general secretary Reverend Ame Tugaue.

Mr Tugaue said the church did not want to set too high a target because it would be an extra burden on members.

"We are not really concerned about the amount but we want the church members to come and enjoy themselves during the week because that is what the festival is all about," he said.

He said the Rotuman Division would open the week-long choir competition at Ratu Cakobau Park on August 18 and there would be a traditional welcoming ceremony.

Mr Tugaue said the singing program would be moved to Baker Hall for primary school students on August 18 before they took their second term break.

"Right after the traditional welcoming ceremony and the soli by the Rotuman division, secondary school students will start their singing competition at the park.

"We have more than 30 schools taking part in the choir competition."

Bau Island will host the annual conference.

From Sanimeli Maraf in Fiji (17 July 2006, posted 29 July)

You have all read in this news page about the Bulou-ni-Ceva sitting on the reef at Lopta in Rotuma. The boat came over with only one engine working. It was rough that day and the wind forced the boat onto the reef when it was anchored away from Oinafa wharf. We went to look at it, and it was just as if someone had lifted it up and placed it nicely on the reef, fu ta, right opposite the Tamania Shop of Mr & Mrs Rymer.

Those on board, including the crew, were well taken care of by the people of Lopta, who hosted them at Lopta Hall, and people from all seven districts brought them food: Taro, tapioka, cows, pigs, fish, etc. etc., but the ladies of Lopta did all the cooking. We say la as.

The captain was the same man, I believe, who was captain of Mairue, the New Zealand ship that originally came from Bluff in Invercargill on the South Island. It did the run between Bluff and Stewart Island. I believe it was privately owned by Mr Leo Smith and used to come to Rotuma at the time of RCA after Mr Inia died.

The Bulou-ni-Ceva is owned privately by Kadavu; that may be why the government has been slow in making decisions. We are afraid that the fuel on the boat will leak onto the reef. That would be a big problem for Lopta and all of Rotuma.

Most of the crew came back to Fiji on the Iloilo Vatu, but five men were left behind to look after the boat.

The Green Olive restaurant is about to open here in Fiji. It is owned by top Tasmanian chef Solo Wiliame. I’ve seen the menu and it’s almost overseas prices but it looks to be very high class.

We’re off to the western side today and will be back for the Methodist Church solevu on 18 August. This Saturday is Rev Langi’s höt ak hafu. Time flies so quickly.

To all our overseas friends around the globe: Be kind to each other. God bless us all.

Alan & Jan's report from recent visit to New Zealand and Fiji

From UNESCO Website (26 July 2006)

Fiji workshop calls for increased gender perspective in Pacific communication policies and initiatives

Gender equality needs much more attention in policies, programmes and initiatives in the ICT sector in the Pacific said the participants of a UNESCO sponsored workshop on ”Empowering Communities through Information” that was hosted by femLINKPACIFIC: Media Initiatives for Women in Suva, Fiji, from 12 to 15 July 2006.
“It is critical to increase practical knowledge on freedom of information, on freedom of communication and the media and on ICT for development, and this must reach women in rural communities”, said Elena Dovarua of the Catholic Women’s League in Fiji, one of the 18 participants

“I think this workshop should be held in all centres like in Savusavu, Labasa, Ba, not only in Suva” she said, “This workshop has helped me a lot to understand the role of women’s community media and has also educated me about a lot of new issues.”

For Fuata Antonio, who belongs to the Suva branch of the Rotuman Women’s Association, the workshop has strengthened her in her realization of the important role women and women’s groups play in keeping their communities as well as the broader society informed of developments in the country. Her colleague, Raijeli Mua agreed: “I am empowered with new knowledge,” said the former Assistant Secretary of the National Council of Women Fiji.

For complete article go to UNESCO website

From Fijitimes Online (25 July 2006)

Shipping services worry Qarase

THE poor quality of shipping services to the outer islands remains a major concern, says Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Speaking in his village of Mavana in Vanuabalavu at the weekend, Mr Qarase said he was not only concerned about shipping services in the Lau Group but about services to the Lomaiviti Group, Rotuma and other outlying islands.

He said the current services were bad considering the poor quality of ships, the services offered, the passenger accommodation and the toilet facilities

"As far as I am concerned, I want to solve the shipping problem. The Government is looking at buying two to three ships to supplement the current ones," Mr Qarase said.

"It is the Government's priority to improve shipping services throughout Fiji," he said.

Mr Qarase said the Government was looking at reviewing the current franchise scheme, which he described was only beneficial to shipowners.

He said the review process would look into setting a standard for ships that wished to service the outlying islands.

Mr Qarase said this could be a solution to what had been an ongoing problem.

The people of Lau have asked for an improved shipping system over the years.

From Steve Walker in Sydney (22 July 2006)

As part of its regular fundraising activities the Drummoyne Rotuman Congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia held its annual "Dial-an-afa" on Saturday, 22 July 2006.

The event raises funds for the ongoing work of the Church in Australia and overseas. Activities currently before the congregation include repainting the Church interior and support for Project Manna in Fiji.

About 50 "baskets" of food were pre-sold for A$80 each containing taro, pork, chicken, puat kau and of course fekei. All together we raised A$3000 for the day's efforts.

On the day, members of the congregation and our minister, Rev Peter Chung, gathered at the home of George and Lillian Pene to prepare the food, make the koua and generally have a lot of fun working together.

To all those who helped, a big thank you from our chairperson Rejieli Clayton and to all our satisfied customers--many thanks for continuing to support our congregation.

We look forward to doing the same again next year. And if you are going to be in Sydney on 30 September don't forget our Island Night.

See Photos

From Monifa Fiu in Suva (20 July 2006)

Noa'ia 'e mauri!

You may wonder why the need to voice our concern about the Bulou-ni-Ceva. Please view the following photos; the visuals depict the immediate risk on the pristine inter-tidal arrea and the implications for the entire reef system that fringes the island of Rotuma.

Bulou-ni-Ceva on reef at Lopta
Bulou-ni-Ceva on reef at Lopta
Bulou-ni-Ceva on reef at Lopta
Another view
Lopta grounding site
Lopta tide pools
Lopta grounding site
Lopta tide pools

From Fiji's Legislature (18 July 2006)

Senator John Fatiaki's maiden speech

From Fiji Sun (15 July 2006)

Stranded boat threatens marine life

by Moira Raduva

The Kadavu-owned vessel ran aground on the reef at Lopta, a few metres from the wharf a month ago and plans to try and salvage her are in the pipelines, however, the process will have the Kadavu Shipping company coughing up a large sum of money.

“The only thing we want is for the people who own the boat to come and salvage the boat from the reef before any of the fuel spills into the sea,”Rotuma’s representative in Parliament, Brigadier-General Jioji Konrote said.

Mr Konrote said he had formally asked the owners of Bulou ni Ceva to try and salvage the ship and sail it back to Suva.

He said negotiations were continuing with Kadavu Shipping, Fiji Marine Department and the Environment Department to assess the situation on the island.

“When lives depend on the marine ecosystem, this is type of situation becomes a threat,” he said.

On June 14, more than 45 passengers were stranded at the Narain Jetty for a couple of days while engineers on Bulou ni Ceva tried to fix its second engine.

The passengers had paid for all their cargo and luggage when they realised that the Ba Provincial Council-owned boat, Cagi Mai Ba, was to set sail to Rotuma the same week.

“The passengers then decided that they should all go to the Cagi Mai Ba because they were running at a loss with the delay of the Bulou ni Ceva,” Mr Konrote said.

He said he was disappointed with the services provided by the Kadavu Shipping Company when some of its passengers decided to load their belongings on the Cagi Mai Ba.

“When the passengers that were going to Rotuma went to the shipping company to ask for a refund, they were given the run around,” Mr Konrote said.

“I am really disappointed with that kind of service and I know I am not the only one who is disappointed with the services from Kadavu Shipping.”

He said, while at the Government jetty in Oinafa, Rotuma, the boat faced mechanical problems and one of the engines stopped functioning.

“The captain then ordered the boat to drop anchor a couple of metres away from the wharf while waiting for the barge, but while it was waiting for the arrival of the barge, its second engine gave up and at the same time, there was a freak storm and the currents just took the boat to where it is right now.

“No one could do anything to stop the boat from moving and that was when everybody realised that the boat was on the reef,” Mr Konrote said.

Mr Konrote and Rotuma’s Senator, Dr John Fatiaki, said they had both talked to the owners of the boat, with the assistance from the environment and marine departments, about the salvaging.

Both electedrepresentatives have raised their concerns about why the owners of the boat had delayed getting the boat off the reef and removing the boat’s 13,000 litres of fuel.

Since the Bulou ni Ceva landed on the reef, villagers have lived in fear of a possible oil leakage that would pollute their traditional fishing grounds.

Assistant district officer in Rotuma, Etika Taukave, confirmed that officials from the shipping company had been to the island and had seen the ship on the reef, but had not confirmed what they would do with the ship.

Rotuma Island Council chairman Tarterani Rigamoto said the council had raised its concern with the Government and was still waiting for the Kadavu Shipping Company to respond with a plan of action.

“We can’t do anything on this end and we have raised our concerns with our representatives to Government in Suva regarding the matter and they were able to get the attention of the authorities,” Mr Rigamoto said from the Government station, ‘Ahau in Rotuma.

“Last week, we had a team of people who came to survey and investigate the matter in the Government vessel, Iloilovatu, and then there were the insurance officials and we hope that we can get something from them soon.

“We fear that if the fuel leaks into the sea, it would be a disaster that will be very hard to control because most of our islanders here along the coast depend on the sea for a living and if we have the 13,000 litres of oil in the sea, it would just kill everything that we have and it would take a very long time before all the marine ecosystems in the lagoon can be restored.

“We just hope the shipping company comes up with a plan that can see that no oil is leaked into the sea,” Mr Rigamoto.

He said representatives from the seven districts and the small Fijian population on the island had visited the stranded crew members when their boat ran aground last month.

Mr Rigamoto said, at the moment, only four crew members were on the island and they were being looked after by the villagers from Lopta.

Seeking comments from Kadavu Shipping Company proved futile, but one of the employees of the shipping company told Fiji SUN that the company was now awaiting word from its insurance company.

From Fijitimes Online (14 July 2006)

Ship owners blame insurance companies

THE owners of the Bulou ni Ceva cannot remove fuel from the ship until insurance companies complete a report on the grounded vessel.

Kadavau Holdings Limited manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said most people blamed the company for not having the ship removed, almost a month after it got stranded off Rotuma.

However, he said the two insurance companies involved AON Risk and Dominion Insurance, were causing the delays.

AON Risk’s Paul Dunk said he could not comment because he was not aware of Ratu Sela’s comments.

“We have been accused of ignoring the oil spill because of commercial considerations but that is not true,” said Ratu Sela.

“During the first two weeks after the ship ran aground, there was no way for us to get to the island because there were no boats, plane and no form of communication,” he said.

“Towards the second week, government provided a vessel for our team to travel on but the insurance team were not able to travel with us.”

“The team reached Rotuma last week and carried out interviews with the final crew and I hope the report will be compiled by the end of the week.”

“Once that report by the insurance team has been compiled, we will know where to go from there,” he said.

He said arrangements had been made for 36 empty 200-litre drums to be taken to the island but the company couldn’t siphon fuel out of the ship because they would be liable for lawsuits if there was a spill.

The Rotuman Council has said the ship posed a potential threat to islanders.

From Fijitimes Online (10 July 2006)

Walter Rigamoto calls it a day

This item has been transferred to the Life Stories section of the website

From Fijitimes Online (10 July 2006)

New ambulance for island

TRANSPORTATION problems for the sick would now be a thing of the past for the people of Rotuma.

This was after the Government of Japan donated a brand new ambulance to service the island.

Minister of State for Immigration and Ex-Servicemen Jioji Konrote and Senator Dr John Fatiaki were there to receive the gift on behalf of the people of Rotuma.

Speaking at the official handing over ceremony, Japan's Charge d'Affairs Kenji Miyata said the ambulance would serve more than 2,000 people on Rotuma.

"Those who may be located far from hospital will be able to gain faster access to medical treatment, particularly in the event of emergencies, because the access to medical treatment makes all the difference between life and death," he said.

Mr Miyata said the project was made possible through Japan's grant assistance for grassroots human security projects program.

"This is in line with Japan's official development assistance policy in promoting development at the grassroots level.

"Specifically addressing human needs such as water supply, health, basic education, vocational training, sanitary environment and rural infrastructure," Mr Miyata said.

He said the project is an indication of Japan's continual commitment towards improving the welfare of the people of Fiji.

In receiving the ambulance Dr Fatiaki said that this was not the first time Japan had assisted the people of Rotuma as Japan had earlier financed the solar system at the Rotuma hospital.

"I can assure you that this great gift is a major help to the nurses, doctors, and the people of Rotuma as a whole," Senator Fatiaki said.

From Fijitimes Online (10 July 2006)

Islanders want boat off their reef

ROTUMAN parliamentarian Jioji Konrote has called on the Kadavu shipping company to speed up the process of salvaging the Bulou ni Ceva from a reef near the island.

This is because of concern raised by his members that fuel could leak out and kill marine life they depend on for their livelihood.

“It is a concern and I have continued to receive calls and letters from the Rotuman community expressing their concern about the ship that is stuck on one of the reefs near the island,” said Mr Konrote.

He said as the Rotuman MP, he had done his part in arranging for the transporting of crew back to the mainland and taking officials to the island to assess the damage.

“The Government has done its part and it is now for the ship company to carry out its task. They need to get it out from there before anything happens,” Mr Konrote said.

“One of the first things the company can do is get the fuel off the tank before it leaks to the sea and harms marine life.”

Mr Konrote added that about 30,000 litres of fuel was on the Bulou ni Ceva.

“If a part of the fuel leaks into the sea, it would be a worse situation because what islanders depend on for their livelihood will be polluted and unsafe for consumption.”

The company, Mr Konrote said, had no reason to delay the process of salvaging the ship because officials have returned from Rotuma.

From Fijitimes Online (8 July 2006)

Owners to siphon oil from stuck vessel

THE owners of the vessel that ran aground near Rotuma plan to siphon the fuel into empty drums to avoid an environmental disaster.

Kadavu Holdings Company’s manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said 36 drums of 30-litre capacity were being transferred to fill the 200-litres of fuel that is estimated to be in the Bulou ni Ceva.

The vessel ran aground early last month near Lopta in Rotuma. Mr Nanovo said the company has taken the initiative to prevent an oil spill from happening if the ship sustained more damage.

Department of Environment director Epeli Nasome said the safety of the transfer of fuel from the ship to drums rested solely on the system used.

“It all depends on the fuel transfer system used because it should be checked for drips,” said Mr Nasome.

“The department should have been consulted on the spill but that hasn’t happened and I hope the National Oil Spills Committee has been consulted,” he said.

“The committee is normally consulted at times like this when there is a fear of oil spill, on the best and safest way of transferring fuel from the ship.”

Mr Nasome said members of the committee included the Maritime Department, National Fire Authority, the oil companies and the Environment Department.

However, he understood that two Marine Department staff had been to Lopta and may have advised the ship owners.

From Fijitimes Online (7 July 2006)

Insurers inspect grounded ship

INSURERS of the Kadavu Holdings island trader Bulou ni Ceva returned last night from inspecting the ship aground off Rotuma.

Kadavu company manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said representatives of Aon Risk, the insurance broker, and Dominion Insurance were expected to meet with Kadavu Holdings today to discuss options.

Bulou ni Ceva on reef off Lopta
Bulou ni Ceva on reef off Lopta

photo by Ragnhild Scheifes on 17 June 2006

The province needs to determine whether to salvage the vessel.

Ratu Sela said he would tell the media of developments after the meeting.

The ship ran aground near Lopta Village, in Oinafa.

The Rotuman community has called for the prompt salvage of the vessel because it could prove hazardous to the island’s pristine marine environment.

Rotuma council chairman Tarterani Rigamoto said the council had raised its concerns with the relevant authorities.

He said the concerns were taken up with the marine and environment departments, which had advised the council to wait for the findings of a team that went to Rotuma last week to assess the extent of damage.

From Fijitimes Online (4 July 2006)

Vessel threatens island: Council

A VESSEL that ran aground near Rotuma poses a potential threat to the islanders and their surroundings, says the Rotuma Council.

The Council has raised its concern about the Bulou ni Ceva with the relevant authorities, said council chairman Tarterani Rigamoto yesterday.

He said the concerns were raised with the environment and marine departments, who advised the council to wait for the findings of a team that left last week to assess the damage to the vessel.

The crew of the vessel and the assessment team returned early yesterday morning.

Rotuma parliamentarian Jioji Konrote said the team was expected to present its findings soon to the Government.

He could not specify what the findings were. Mr Konrote said the urgent matter was the removal of the vessel to prevent an environmental disaster because fuel spillage would destroy the marine life in Rotuma.

District officer Jovesa Vocea said of the 30 crew members, four engineers were still on the island to look after the vessel. The Kadavu Shipping Limited owned-vessel ran aground near Lopta village, Oinafa last month.

The Rotuma-Suva community’s chairman Fred Susau said the detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem around the immediate wreckage site would cause damage.

He said the oil spillage would suffocate all marine life and destroy breeding ground for fish and other marine resources.

Comment by Akata Hodgkinson

From Fijitimes Online (3 July 2006)

The Kadavu Shipping Limited will wait until next Tuesday to know the fate of the MV Bulou ni Ceva on whether they will be able to salvage it from the reefs of Rotuma.

Kadavu Provincial chairman Josateki Nawalowalo has confirmed that the companies Insurance agent together with the Marine Surveyors are in Rotuma looking at what is the best option available to try and salvage the vessel.

Nawalowalo said that the Government vessel Iloilo-vatu is also in Rotuma carrying engineers who will help in trying to bring back the MV Bulou ni Ceva.

While there were concern raised that there may be oil spillage from the vessel to the reefs, Nawalowalo adds that the vessel crew have taken care of the problem.

From Fijitimes Online (2 July 2006)

Team checks on stricken vessel

A team that left last Thursday to assess damage to the vessel Bulou ni Ceva is expected to return with the crew early this week.

The team reached Rotuma early on Saturday morning.

Rotuma parliamentarian Jioji Konrote said the team would return with the 30 crew members, including the captain of the vessel, who were being sheltered and looked after by the people and chiefs of one of the villages on Rotuma.

Mr Konrote said the team consisted of representatives from the shipping company, the environment department and marine surveyors.

Mr Konrote said the vessel should be removed immediately to prevent an environmental disaster as 13,000 litres of fuel in the vessel could destroy the marine life in Rotuma waters.

Mr Konrote said the matter needed urgent attention.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Mick Beddoes said accepting an insurance payout for the Bulou ni Ceva would be a better alternative for its owners then a salvage operation.

Mr Beddoes said although the company was doing all it could to fix matters, there was a danger that with a $1million cover, the owners might be looking more keenly at a insurance payout rather than salvaging it.

Mr Beddoes said salvage operations would cost up to $300,000.

However unexplained delays are increasing the risk of a failure in the salvage operations and the potential environment disaster that will follow if the good whether changes and the vessel begins to break up, he said

The vessel ran onto a reef at Rotuma last month.

It is owned by the Kadavu Shipping Limited.

From Fijitimes Online (1 July 2006)

Rupeni Fatiaki’s got a heart of gold

This item has been transferred to the Life Stories section of the website

From Fijitimes Online (1 July 2006)

Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes has called for the immediate removal of the stricken vessel Bulou ni Ceva from a reef in Rotuma to prevent an environmental disaster. He said there was a risk that oil and fuel from the ship would seep into the ocean if the Government did not speed up the removal process. He said the matter needed urgent attention.

He warned the ship was an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Mr Beddoes said if the vessel was not removed, oil and fuel would spill into the ocean creating an environmental disaster for the people of Rotuma.

He said the response from proper authorities was too slow and the delay would not do much to help the problem. The crew of the stricken vessel were being fed and clothed by the Rotuman people but no help had been forthcoming from the owners of the vessel.

He said it was a very serious matter that needed immediate attention.

A team was assigned to leave this weekend in a chartered airplane to assess damage done to the ship.

Kadavu Provincial Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo said the team would include officers from Fiji Islands Maritime Services Authority, Kadavu Shipping directors and their insurance brokers to assess the damage.

“We are trying to ask the Transport Ministry to help us on the issue and we have been negotiating for a plane to be chartered to Rotuma,” he said.

He said the 30 crew member including the captain of the Bulou ni Ceva were being sheltered at one of the villages on Rotuma and looked after by the chiefs and villagers.

“The trip would mostly be to assess the condition of the boat and see if it can be salvaged or not and the directors of the company will also be part of the trip.

“We will also be visiting the crew and bringing them back with us after the assessment has been completed,” he said.

He said the weather in Rotuma was really bad and it was the main reason why the ship was still on the reef after almost a month.

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