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Archived News: August 2006

From Fijitimes Online (30 August 2006)

Insurer denies liability

THE insurance company for the boat that has been stuck on a Rotuma reef says there is no liability in the owners' claim.

Dominion Insurance Manager Fiji Client Services Vikash Kumar said this was found after its investigations into the Bulou ni Ceva grounding.

"According to the investigations we have established that liability does not attach to the claim due to reasons known to the owners of the vessel. The next step available can only be better explained by the owners of the vessel," he said.

He said the company did not want to disclose any details of the policy contract to any other parties apart from those bound by the policy contract concerning the Bulou ni Ceva.

But last night Kadavu Shipping and Holdings manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said they were still working on who was liable for the costs involved in salvaging of the boat.

"The insurance company has raised some other queries on the issue and we are waiting for the answers from the Fiji Islands Maritime Services Authority, said Mr Nanovo.

From Fijitimes Online (30 August 2006)

Company dragging feet: Insurers

THE insurers of a vessel stuck along Rotuma's shoreline yesterday blamed Kadavu Shipping for dragging its feet on clarifying pertinent issues it had raised.

Dominion Fiji client services manager Vikash Kumar said while the company was willing to pay for the salvaging costs of the vessel, it had yet to iron out a few loose ends and they could not proceed with the clarifications sought from Kadavu Shipping.

It is believed that there is a dispute over whether the insurance extends to the vessel's present situation.

Mr Kumar did not wish to elaborate and referred questions to Kadavu Shipping.

He estimated that it would cost about $300,000 to salvage the Bulou ni Ceva from Rotuma and that the company was willing to do so as long as all the paperwork was in order.

"The next step available can only be better explained by the owners of the vessel," Mr Kumar said.

Kadavu Shipping and Holdings manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said the amount stated by the insurance company was news to them.

"That is news to us because they have not told us that information and we do not know at this stage where the money would be sourced from," he said.

He said they met with Fiji Islands Maritime Services Authority officers last week on questions regarding the vessel and they were still awaiting answers to the questions.

Ratu Sela said they have to answer questions from the insurance company but could only answer those questions once FIMSA had answered the questions that were sent to them last week.

"The only thing that we are doing now is waiting and we are also aware that a government team is leaving for Rotuma to assess the extent of the damage," he said. Rotumans are eager to have the vessel, which sits about 50metres from the shore, removed before an environmental disaster occurs from oil leakage.

From Fijitimes Online (29 August 2006)

State to siphon oil from vessel

by Solomoni Biumaiono

THE Government has undertaken to siphon all the oil from the vessel Bulou ni Ceva that is stuck close to the Rotuma shoreline.

This was decided after the vessel's owners Kadavu Holdings formally declared to the State that it did not have the funds to remove the fuel from its vessel.

Kadavu Holdings manager Ratu Sela Nanovo said he had formally replied to the seven-day notice given by the Government to the company to remove the oil from the stranded ship.

"The company does not have any funds to remove the oil but faced with a possible state of emergency, the Government could remove the oil from the ship," Ratu Sela said.

He said Kadavu Holdings or Kadavu Shipping would be required to pay the Government back for footing the bill for the essential exercise.

"We would be hoping that by then, we would be able to have secured our insurance claim to be able to pay the Government for their help," Ratu Sela said.

Ratu Sela still could not confirm when his company would be able to remove the Bulou Ni Ceva from Rotuma after repeated calls from Rotumans in Fiji.

He said their insurance claims were still being processed and he could not confirm the actual date they would remove the ship from the Rotuma reef.

"I hope that after our meeting with the insurers that we would be able to know where we stand on the salvaging issue," Ratu Sela said.

The insurers of the Bulou Ni Ceva, Dominion Insurance had asked for more details from Kadavu Holdings and the Fiji Islands Maritime Safety Authority about maritime procedures and regulations.

The Authority's board met yesterday to clarify their answers to the queries before they would be given to the insurers.

From Fijilive (27 August 2006)

Ship threat worries Govt, Rotuma

The acting Transport Minister Senator Qoriniasi Bale has called on the Fiji Marine Board to exercise its powers under the Marine Act to conduct a formal inquiry into the grounding of a vessel in Rotuma.

Senator Bale said the Board should impose disciplinary decisions against the officers of the Bulou ni Ceva as it considers appropriate.

The inter-island vessel belonging to the province of Kadavu was carrying 33 passengers, 22 crew members and cargo when it ran aground on a reef close to Rotuma in June.

Senator Bale told Senate this week the Government and people of Rotuma were concerned about the threat posed by the vessel becoming a reality and the consequential oil pollution it could cause around the coastlines of the island.

He said the preliminary investigation into the grounding had been completed and the report would be considered by the Fiji Marine Board at a special meeting tomorrow.

Senator Bale said the Government’s priority now was to remove the threat of an environment disaster caused by a possible oil spill.

Government he said was exploring all possibilities and had held talks with companies that could do the job.

From Fijivillage (27 August 2006)

Govt moves in to help Kadavu Shipping Limited

The government has moved in to help the Kadavu Shipping Limited from removing all the fuel from the MV Bulou Ni Ceva which remains grounded on the reefs of Rotuma.

After more than two months since it struck the reefs, last Friday the Kadavu Shipping Limited board members had a meeting with acting Minister of Transport Qoroniasi Bale who has assured them that the government will take care of the problem.

Managing director Ratu Sela Nanovo has confirmed that the government has taken this step as a precautionary measure.

From Fijitimes Online (27 August 2006)

State pressures ship owners

by Frederica Elbourne

OWNERS of a vessel grounded off Rotuma have been given seven days to remove the vessel and the oil and fuel in it, after three Government ministries joined forces to act on the threat of an oil spill in Fiji waters.

A team of technicians and a contractor leave for Rotuma tomorrow to extract 13,000 litres of oil from the Bulou ni Ceva. The vessel has been shipwrecked on Oinafa Reef since June 10.

The ministries of Transport, Home Affairs and Provincial Development issued a joint statement last night, saying Kadavu Shipping Company Limited was notified that failure to comply with the order would warrant legal measures by the Government to recover debts incurred from salvaging the vessel and pumping fuel out of it.

Kadavu Shipping Company Limited chairman Sela Nanovo could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts.

The Government said it was forced to issue the notice against the owners of the Bulou ni Ceva because of the rising threat of oil spillage and environmental damage because of the delay by the owners to act on the matter.

An emergency meeting with the National Disaster Management Council was convened yesterday to determine the appropriate and quickest means of retrieving fuel and oil from the vessel and to remove the risk of oil spillage.

The emergency operation includes representatives from the Department of Emergency Management at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Office at the Provincial Development Ministry. The Government has hired a contractor to carry out the extraction of fuel and oil from the vessel with a team of technicians.

From Fijitimes Online (25 August 2006)

Threat of oil spill remains

AN oil spill in Rotuma yesterday became a real threat after revelations that fuel from the stricken Bulou ni Ceva had not been siphoned off into drums.

Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale said it was an urgent matter because they were talking about 13,000 litres of oil.

Speaking in the Senate, he said preliminary investigations showed that the ship's owners, Kadavu Shipping Limited, had not siphoned off the fuel into drums as they professed.

He said who would foot the bill for oil containment and salvage operation was another issue.

The Government stepped up measures to address the problem after a delay in negotiation between the shipowner and the insurance company.

He said if the vessel owners did not adhere to appropriate notice by the Ministry of Transport, the cost from the exercise would be collected as debt by the State.

The Bulou ni Ceva ran aground in Rotuma on June 10. Mr Bale said owners of the vessel were given sufficient time to do necessary work to avoid the threat of damage to the environment, he said yesterday in Senate.

Kadavu Shipping had not executed its earlier assurance that fuel and oil were transferred from the vessel, Mr Bale said.

They were to have siphoned off 200 litres of fuel into 30 drums.

He said the vessel owners had delivered 200 litres of fuel to Rotuma but the transfer of fuel to drums had not been done, even though Kadavu Shipping maintained otherwise.

"This has not helped. The threat of an oil spill remains and must be addressed," he said.

It would cost $500,000 to salvage the vessel from Oinafa reef but the ultimate question was who would pay, he said.

As acting Transport Minister Mr Bale said measures to address the problem were clear.

A tanker can be provided by Shell to clear fuel from the ship to a truck on shore and an Australia surveyor is needed to sanction the operation, Mr Bale said.

See Fiji Government Press Release

From Fijitimes Online (23 August 2006)

Church raises $1.9m through contributions

COFFERS at the Methodist Church Conference continued to be filled with money from those taking part in the choir competition at Ratu Cakobau Park.
At midday yesterday, the church had raised $1,911,880 and the amount was expected to rise through the remaining days of the conference.

A source at the finance section at the grounds revealed the amount, which was tallied after 6pm yesterday.

From Friday, the conference was opened by the Rotuman community, which gave $344,333 and money contributed for the cakacaka levu or annual church levy amounted to $1,365,256 and from the first day of the choir competition until yesterday, $202,025 had been collected from choirs.

In the choir competition, there were about 40 choirs in the primary and secondary division, nine in the tertiary schools category, 34 in the trio and quartet category and 19 business house choirs.

Saturday was a day for all Sunday School choirs and more than 100 such choirs took part in the choral competition.

Monday was the day for Psalms singing by women and in total there were 20 groups and 71 groups in the Methodist Youth Fellowship.

In the class two divisions there were 47 choirs that had taken part by late afternoon yesterday.

The choir competition continued yesterday and faithful members didn't let the muddy ground conditions dampen their spirits in taking part in the competition.

From Senator John Fatiaki in Suva (22 August 2006)

Greetings to the Rotuman online community

Further to my last entry in the news, the media has been abuzz with articles on almost a daily basis regarding our concerns in regards to the Bulou Ni Ceva, and I thank you all for your support, prayers and most importantly, your strident voices of protest and concern.

The minister Konrote met with the Prime Minister last Wednesday and "things" seem to be starting to move.

I had notified the Govt on Monday at the first sitting of this session of Senate, of my intention to move an amendment motion on a matter of "urgent national interest" this Friday pertaining to the Bulou Ni Ceva.

This was met with an assurance today that a ministerial statement will be made in parliament tomorrow (24 August) by the Attorney General regarding the Bulou Ni Ceva.

I am thankful for this and hope that this is not too late as we have received news that there has been some seepage, albeit limited, from the crack in the hull.

Until further news, let us all pray and hope that the Creator will continue to protect and bless our island.

Dr John

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (20 August 2006)

Over the past couple of weeks there have been two noteworthy events here on Oahu. On 12 August the Fale family celebrated two events: Hutch Unga Fale, who is married to Gaylene Lilino, daughter of Rejieli Rigamoto Lilino, graduated with a doctorate of law degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and the couple celebrated the first birthday of their daughter, Rachel Lenore Tauki'onetuku Fale.

Rachel & Rejieli
Gaylene & Rachel
Rejieli Lilino with ma'piga Rachel
Gaylene Fale with Rachel

And on 18 August, Jason Faga, son of Faga Alferete and Seforosa Kiji Faa, and a student at Brigham Young University, Hawaii, married Harmony. Both events were splendid affairs with plenty of food and entertainment.

Jason & Harmony
Jason & Harmony Faga

From Fijitimes Online (19 August 2006)

Rotuma gives $333,000

by Solomoni Biumaiono

ROTUMA islanders yesterday opened the annual Methodist Church conference at Ratu Cakobau Park with $333,000.

The contribution was handed to Methodist Church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca at a traditional ceremony.

Apart from the money, people of Rotuma also presented traditional gifts and food.

The seven district chiefs of Rotuma were present at the opening ceremony which included a tautoga, a traditional Rotuman dance.

Rotuman Dancers
Rotumans liven up the colourful opening of the Methodist Church conference at Ratu Cakobau Park yesterday

Rotuma islanders living in Suva and those who came from the island were part of the colourful opening ceremony.

At the start of the choral and soli competition yesterday, the church had collected more than $13,000 from the primary school choral competition with the secondary schools, tertiary instituitions and business house competitions still to be held.

Rotumans at Methodist Conference
Rotumans at the opening of the Methodist Church in Fiji conference at Nausori on Friday

The Methodist Church said the conference would not be used to raise the budget that it needed in a year and that it had not set any specific target to collect at this year's conference.

The church needs about $3million every year to carry out its activities and help run its primary, high and vocational schools, theological college and orphanage.

The church said it had been raising money through tithe and individual levy throughout the year and the fundraising at the conference was only part of the church's plans to raise money.

The Methodist Church had just increased its individual levy from $10 to $15 and cited increase in the cost of living as the reason.

The church also finished its financial year in May and the audited financial reports would be tabled at the conference on Bau Island the coming week.

Meanwhile, Dilkusha Girls Primary School won the primary schools choral competition while Marcellin Primary School, last year's winner, was runner-up.

Delainamasi Primary School was the second runner-up, Lautoka Methodist Primary School was third runner-up and Makoi Methodist Primary School came in fifth.

Dilkusha Girls became the first to win the Baker Hall Trophy in the category while Dilkusha Boys Primary won the soli competition with a $2800 donation to the church coffers.

The secondary schools choral competition was being held last night when this edition went to press.

From Fijitimes Online (19 August 2006)

Niurou boosts midcourt play

by Otilly Rabuku

FIJI men's under-23 utility Mosese Niurou is the latest inclusion in the Fiji Open team that takes on the Australia U-23 side in its opening game of the International Men's & Mixed Netball Championship at the FMF Dome today.

The nippy Rotuman lad has been called in to strengthen the midcourt zone after the last minute withdrawal of John Rabuka and Ratu Josua Sovasova.

Fiji, coached by Taina Rabitu, expects a tough run against top guns Australia and New Zealand in the tournament.

Australia has come fully geared up to give its archrivals New Zealand a run. The Kiwis are defending both the open and mixed titles.

The Aussies comprises of core of the New South Wales State open men's team that defeated the Silver Ferns in warm matches prior to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne this year.

Newcomers to this year's championship Tonga take on NZ in the first game.

Meanwhile, a meeting will be held in Suva next week to decide the host for the 2008 championship.

Today:11.30am Australia-NZ (Mixed), 1pm Fiji-Australia U23 (Men), 2.30, New Zealand-Tonga (Mixed), 6, Opening Ceremony, 7, Australia-NZ (Men).

From Fijitimes Online (17 August 2006)

Ship leaking oil: Konrote

by Ernest Heatly

The inter-island vessel, Bulou ni Ceva, which ran aground over two months ago is apparently leaking fuel, while stranded on a reef about 50 metres away from the shoreline in Rotuma, says the island's Member of Parliament Jioji Konrote.

Mr Konrote said the claims by the ship-owners that they pumped fuel into drums and out of the ship were not correct and very misleading.

"We are very concerned with the environmental problem this may cause because Rotuma is basically a small island and it is worrying how much time they are taking to address the problem," he said.

Mr Konrote said a distressed resident on the island, Mere Epeli, who lives just metres away from the stricken vessel, said she had been told by a crew-member that oil was seeping from the vessel.

Mr Konrote said he was told that about 9-10,000 litres of oil had been in the ship's fuel tank when it ran aground on June 14 after both engines on the vessel encountered engine problems and a freak wind forced it on a reef to the north of the island.

Kadavu Shipping chairman, Sela Nanovo said he had received no such report from his employees on Rotuma.

"I've just had two men return from visiting the ship and they have reported nothing of the sort," said Mr Nanovo. He said the delay in the processing of their insurance claim was holding salvage efforts back.

"We are trying to avoid that (fuel leak) at all costs and if the insurance companies do not come back to us on time we just cannot do anything," he said.

It is understood that the four crew-members, the last of those who were still stranded on the island, are on their way back to Suva.

The other 25 members of the original crew were brought back to Suva by government vessel Iloilovatu, which also took two Fiji Island Maritime Seaferers Association (FIMSA) officers to conduct an on-site assessment of the vessel.

Mr Konrote raised questions on whether the Bulou Ni Ceva was seaworthy at all when it left for the island. Meanwhile, Dominion Insurance spokesman Vikash Kumar said because the company's claims were likely to take a while Kadavu Shipping should hire a salvage operator to clear the vessel from the reef as their claim was processed.

"Claims of this magnitude takes insurers considerable time to finalise. The delay in this case was due to the extensive investigations and damage assessments that were necessary which was duly carried out by a chartered loss adjuster," said Mr Kumar.

He said delay in processing the claims was due to the unfavourable weather conditions that made it impossible for the survey team to reach Rotuma for a first hand inspection of the vessel. "The loss adjuster had submitted their report which was then subjected to a legal opinion," he said.

"The owners of the vessel also have a duty to take all reasonable precautions to mitigate further losses and that includes salvaging the vessel by proper means and by hiring the services of the professionals whilst their claim is under process," said Mr Kumar.

"The claims process is almost near completion and a decision on the claim would be reached soon," he said.

Environmental group Green-peace has similarly expressed concern at the potential damage and oil spill which could affect Rotuma's pristine marine ecosystem.

From Fijivillage (17 August 2006)

The Ministry of Environment will not carry out a Marine study on the reefs of Rotuma where the MV Bulou ni Ceva has been lying in for the past two weeks.

After requests by State Minister for Ex Service-man George Konrote, Director Environment Epeli Nasome said that they will wait for the insurance company for an assessment report to determine if the reefs are in any danger.

He said following the assessment they will instruct Kadavu Shipping on the steps to take to ensure that the vessel, if not salvaged does not pose any threat to marine life.

Commentary by Sefo Avaiki

From Vilsoni Hereniko in Honolulu (17 August 2006)

Below is a photo I took it in mid-July on my Rotuma trip of the Bulou-ni Ceva on the reef at Lopta. It might help to remind people of the urgency of this situation.

Bulou-ni-Ceva on Reef at Lopta

From Senator John Fatiaki in Suva (15 August 2006)

To the Rotuman Virtual Community, my warmest greetings ma 'aus noa'ia 'e mauri.

Senator John Fatiaki
Senator John Fatiaki

It was my intention to sign the petition on the SOS Grounding of the Bulou Ni Ceva on the reef at Lopta when I realised that the petition was directed at the Minister Jioji Konrote and me. In this regard, please permit me the opportunity to briefly outline for one and all where we are at this moment; as having recently returned from the island we are only too cognizant of the significant dangers of the continued presence of the boat on the reef at Lopta.

Firstly, however, may I thank all concerned Rotumans who have signed up and congratulate Monifa and the Laje group for all their efforts in this regard.

Since the Bulou Ni Ceva was grounded on the reef at Lopta some 9-10 weeks ago, we have been actively meeting and lobbying all parties concerned viz. the Ministry of Transport/Ministry of the Enviorment/Marine Authority/Kadavu Shipping and Dominion Insurance. Weekly meetings have been held and we facilitated the transporting of all relevant personnel to the island via the Govt Boat Iloilovatu some seven weeks ago to make preliminary assesments. This was followed by a chartered flight for the insurance company's personnel some six weeks ago, and all the necessary assesements were completed approx four weeks ago with the decision made to salvage the ship. Unfortunately this has to date not occurred despite intense lobbying and media coverage over the past two months (i.e. two news articles per week in the print media as well as on Fiji TV).

The minister and I travelled to the island in mid-July where we physically boarded the ship and climbed into the hold to better understand the risks involved. A skeleton crew of four men remained with the boat and although the hold was flooded, at that time there did not appear to have been any leakage outside of the ship. This situation is nonetheless completely unacceptable as any significant changes in the weather could spell a major disaster enviormentally.

In regards to the prospect of fuel oil being pumped out of the flooded hold, the technical advice given by the "experts" and assesors was that this would certainly result in some spillage, and that as the fuel oil was securely contained in the flooded hold in the ship's fuel tanks and oil drums, the better option was to have the ship's hull repaired and the boat removed from the reef expeditiously. Unfortunately, this has to date not happened.

Minister Konrote was again on the news tonight bemoaning this fact and we intend to meet with the Prime Minister tomorrow to push for a salvage operation that should have begun at least a month ago, if not earlier. We ask for your prayers and continued efforts in lobbying with us as only the government and the insurance company have the means to undertake a salvage operation of this scale.

I will keep you all posted.

Dr John C Fatiaki

P.S. We intend to put out a news release on a regular basis in regards to issues on the island and the first bulletin should be posted within the month.

From Fijitimes Online (15 August 2006)

Fuel will reach paralysed island today

SCHOOLS will reopen tomorrow and transportation returns with an emergency fuel supply expected to arrive on Rotuma this morning.

Fuel was sent to the island on Sunday night after water and electricity services had to be shut down in the past two weeks as supplies reached critical levels.

The four schools, including one high school, were closed because there was no fuel to pump water to the buildings.

Rotuma's representative to the Upper House, Senator Dr John Fatiaki said the fuel sent would be enough to cater for all the island's needs, including the health centre, schools and to pump water for at least three weeks.

"The Cagi mai Ba has left for the island and we are glad that things can return to normal for those back on the island. However, let me emphasise, that the amount of fuel sent can only last between two to three weeks," Dr Fatiaki said.

He said there was still a great need for the Government to help the island, one of the most remote in the Fiji Group.

"If there was an island that greatly needs fuel for its daily needs, it would be Rotuma. But, because of its remoteness, it is not frequently visited by boats," Dr Fatiaki said.

He said the Rotuma Council had asked the Government to help with higher levels of fuel supply to the island.

Dr Fatiaki said it was important to have a back-up supply so such shortfalls did not happen again.

Minister for Immigration and Ex-Servicemen Jioji Konrote hopes the next shipment of fuel follows soon.

"For safety reasons, we can not overload the Cagi mai Ba," he said.

"I'm happy that at least school and work on the island will be back to normal," Mr Konrote said.

Speaking from her island home, Pasepa Epeli, a villager of Fapufa, in the district of Itutiu, said the lack of fuel over the past two weeks had crippled the island's health and education system.

"I'm really happy that students can now continue with their studies and transport will ease the strenuous walk that we have to endure to go to public services provided at government stations," she said.

From Fijitimes Online (15 August 2006)

New boat for Kadavu cleared: Nawalowalo

by Jona Bola

THE vessel MV Pulupaki, here to replace the Bulou ni Ceva on local shipping routes, has been cleared by Tongan authorities, according to Kadavu Holdings Limited director Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo.

Ratu Josateki said the boat would not be sailing if it had not been properly cleared by authorities in Tonga.

He said people in outlying islands needed shipping services badly, with the Methodist conference this week and next, school holidays, island rugby competition and the Hibiscus carnival next week.

Ratu Josateki said Kadavu Holdings and Pacific Tonga Trading Company had an agreement on the servicing of Kadavu and Rotuma for six to 12 months.

He said the agreement was reviewed every three months.

"The main reason for bringing the ship over was to cater for the routes which the Bulou ni Ceva was servicing before it ran aground," he said.

"All procedures were followed to allow the ship to sail on our waters.

"While we are concerned about salvaging the Bulou ni Ceva we are also committed to providing services to our clientele and that is what we are doing."

Ratu Josateki said the ship had already taken three trips to Kadavu and would take the franchise run to Rotuma by the end of the month.

"The boat is bigger and better than the Bulou ni Ceva and can carry 400 passengers, 10 vehicles and up to 100 tonnes of cargo," Mr Nawalowalo said.

The Bulou ni Ceva, meanwhile sits high and dry on a reef at Rotuma. There were fears of an oil spill but the boat owners said they had taken out all fuel.

From Fijitimes Online (15 August 2006)

Foundation gifts $1.5m

THE Vodafone ATH Foundation says it has contributed over $1.5million towards charities and disaster relief efforts since it was established two years ago.

Vodafone's manager corporate social responsibility, Lenora Qereqeretabua said as the foundation embarked on its third year in operation, an additional $1.4m has been set aside for its social investment for the current financial year from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007.

She said while the foundation focused on funding projects that provided access to health care, enhanced educational opportunities and environmental projects, all applications were given due consideration.

"Part of the funding allocated for this financial year has been set aside for an environmental project, River Care, which is working to raise the awareness and care of waterways and rivers through school and community education activities," said Ms Qereqeretabua.

The project is run by an environmental non-government organisation, Live and Learn and is supported by the education ministry.

It has been allocated $314,000 over a three-year period.

Ms Qereqeretabua said other projects that would be supported during the current financial year included the funding of hygiene facilities for several communities in Wailoku, the funding of a boat and outboard engine to help villagers of Ogea in Lau access healthcare on Vanuabalavu, and, an environmental education project on Rotuma.

Ms Qereqeretabua said the overall objective of the foundation was to make a difference in the lives of communities and people by investing resources, such as profits, staff time and technology back into the people and the environment.

She said the foundation board met four times a year to consider applications for help.

"We have since been able to assist many worthwhile projects and make donations to established charities such as the Ba Veilomani Boys Home and Fiji Society for the Blind," Ms Qereqeretabua said.

She said every effort was made to ensure that each application was given proper consideration.

From Fijitimes Online (13 August 2006)

Evacuated mother safe with baby

AN expectant mother who was evacuated from Rotuma on Friday has given birth and is recovering at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

Hospital staff who did not wish to be named said the mother and her child are in stable condition and are recovering well.

The mother was evacuated from Rotuma Island on Friday morning after she developed complications.

She is still under observation at the CWM Hospital's post natal unit.

The baby has been admitted at the CWM's nursery intensive care unit.

An Air Fiji aircraft evacuated the woman from Rotuma. The medical evacuation caused a bit of a confusion in Air Fiji's flight schedule. It resulted in a passenger being left stranded in Labasa yesterday.

Ashwin Mani, a sales rep with BP Oil was stranded in Labasa without his luggage which was put on board a Sun Air aircraft.

The Sun Air aircraft was used by Air Fiji to service this route because of the Rotuma medical evacuation.

Mr Mani said no one told him that Air Fiji had leased the Sun Air aircraft and his name was not called even though his luggage had already boarded the plane. In the last minute, he was told to board the aircraft but he was pulled back into the terminal by a Sun Air worker because the aircraft was about to take-off.

An eyewitness Manzoor Ali confirmed Mr Mani's story and he was also concerned over the inconvenience this caused to local passengers.

"I had to do without my bags and its such an inconvenience for me and obviously this is not the first time the local airline companies have done this," Mr Mani said.

Air Fiji media relations officer Richard Broadbridge confirmed that the Rotuma medical evacuation caused the confusion but he said the matter rests entirely with Sun Air because it was responsible for the boarding of the flight.

From Maniue Vilsoni in Suva (13 August 2006)

The latest issue of MARAMA magazine, published in Fiji, features Mere Nakaora (breast cancer issue) and Irava Raki (a guardian angel to the animals of Fiji). Harieta Vilsoni modelled in the health section (self body massage). The magazine's e-mail address is

From Fijitimes Online (9 August 2006)

Stephanie's second chance

MISS Fiji National Provident Fund Stephanie Waqanivavalagi made a personal choice when she entered the Vodafone Hibiscus 2006.

She felt that opportunities like taking part in a carnival of a magnitude as the Vodafone Hibiscus 2006 hardly came twice and decided to accept when she was asked for the second time.

However, when she was first asked, she declined because at the time she was still in high school and didn't think much of her prospects.

First spotted while she was still a student at Saint Joseph's Secondary School in Suva, last year, Ms Waqanivavalagi said she just didn't see herself entering such carnivals.

That was last year but when she was again asked to be the contestant this year, she didn't hesitate to accept.

"I was spotted last year and asked to be the contestant but while I was reluctant at first, I decided to take it up because I see it as a challenge," she said.

"I thought we can only get a chance to do something like this once in a lifetime and besides, we are never too young to display our talents," she said.

"At the moment, I am a Foundation Social Science student at the University of the South Pacific but am on attachment at FNPF as a customer services officer."

Ms Waqanivavalagi is third in a family of six sisters and is from Rakiraki, Yale in Kadavu while her mother is from Motusa in Rotuma.

Her hobbies include creative writing, cooking, diving, listening to Gospel music and spending time with her family.

"I am a very family oriented person and love nothing more than being home with them," she said,

On preparations for the carnival, Ms Waqanivavalagi said she expects it to be hectic and busy but is looking forward to making a whole lot of new friends and getting some good exposure confidence wise.

From Fijitimes Online (10 August 2006)

Vessel owners say no oil spill

OWNERS of the vessel that ran aground in Rotuma said yesterday there will be no oil spill because all fuel in the boat had been siphoned-off into 44 gallon drums.

Kadavu Provincial Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo urged people concerned to let common sense prevail.

"When the boat was grounded we took the necessary action and took all the fuel out and filled them in 44 gallon drums," he said.

"The drums are all at the cargo level of the boat.

"So there's no reason to worry about oil spill," he said.

He was responding to concerns raised by the Laje Rotuma Initiative, an environment group that co-ordinates a marine conservation program in Fiji's northernmost island.

Ratu Josateki said they could not do much to salvage the vessel without the approval of relevant authorities.

He said if it was entirely the council's prerogative, they would have salvaged the boat the day after it ran aground.

He said the delay was with the insurance company.

"This is costing us a lot of money and there's also cost in the delay in the decision to salvage," he said.

"We've lost income because of that.

"We will be putting all that in our claim," he said.

"I'm assuring the people of Rotuma the oil is safely stored so there's no reason to worry about it," he said.

Dominion Insurance Limited said they could not comment on the matter at the moment.

Green Peace Australia Pacific said they shared the serious and urgentconcern of the inhabitants of Rotuma and the fear that there could be an oil spill.

Pacific administration and oceans team leader Nilesh Goundar said oil which spilled into the sea would move around and the weather would break it down and change its physical and chemical properties.

"As the processes happen, the oil threatens surface resources and a wide range of sub-surface marine organisms linked to a complex food chain.

"Some organismsmay be seriously injured or killed soon after contact with oil in a spill but non-lethal toxic effects are more subtle and often longer lasting," he said.

From Fijitimes Online (9 August 2006)

SOS: Oil spill fear

A GROUP of islanders has warned of a major environmental disaster if oil from a ship stuck on a nearby reef is not removed.

LajeRotuma Initiative co-ordinator Monifa Fiu said she was in Rotuma when the vessel ran aground almost two months ago.

"The concern is most of the community here don't realise the immediate risk," she said.

"It's not in a displaced part of the reef and away from the island. It's only about 50 metres from shore and that's why we're raising our concern."

Ms Fiu said the vessel was very close to land and the impact on Rotuma should there be a leak would be disastrous.

She said the immediate impact on the island would be quick not only for the coastline area but the fishing area and the reef on which the boat was grounded on, was a popular place for the locals to collect edible seaweed as part of their Rotuman seafood diet.

"We're more concerned about if there is a leak.

"There has been no environmental impact assessment report done that has been released to the local community.

"The reef area where the boat is grounded is not only important source of fishing to the locals, but where much of the marine flora is represented," she said. Ms Fiu said it had almost been two months since the incident occurred and there was a danger of it being forgotten. A salvage operation by ship owners Kadavu Holdings Limited is yet to eventuate.

A statement from Laje Rotuma Initiative said ships which ran aground on coral reefs could cause immediate and long-term damage to marine organisms and surrounding environment because of the possibility of fuel, oil, paint and other chemical leaking from the ships.

"A grounded ship may smash hundreds of years worth of coral growth on initial impact and during adverse weather conditions.

"In addition to that, an oil slick on the water and beach or remnants of a rusting ship is not a good sight," it stated.

The statement said the extent of damage also depended on the quality and chemical content of material leaking into the sea.

It said some of the consequences of an oil leak were impaired ability of marine organisms to reproduce, grow or feed, oysters, mussels and clams would not be fit for consumption because of the high content of contaminants.

It said turtles could be affected because their need to surface and breathe would be affected; birds that bred and fed on the sea or shoreline could die from starvation, drowning and loss of body heat.

Other effects, it stated on the environment, would be slow death of coral reef, shoreline erosion, oil-slicked beaches, increase in diseases from polluted water and fish and decline in economic options for Rotumans who depended on the sea for their livelihood.

The Bulou ni Ceva ran aground on a reef off Rotuma almost two months ago.

Late last month, Kadavu Provincial Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo assured people of Rotuma that a fuel leak would not happen.

"The vessel is safe and the fuel is kept safely in their drums.

"We have already taken the fuel out and transferred it to drums. The drums are kept in the storage room of the vessel and will be brought to shore once we salvage the ship," he said.

"We had to take precautionary measures and that's what we did when the ship ran aground on the reef outside Rotuma."

Ratu Josateki asked people of Rotuma to bear with them as they prepared to salvage the ship.

"The company would like to ask the people of Rotuma to bear with us as we near the end of the salvaging process.

"We are doing everything possible to get the ship out," said Ratu Josateki.

He said government assessors had given a report on the matter to the insurers, Dominion Insurance.

"We are waiting for them to give their advice and once that is received, we will start the salvaging process," Ratu Josateki said.

From Pacific Magazine Website (8 August 2006)

Fuel Shortage Leads To Water And Power Rationing

The island of Rotuma, north of Fiji, is experiencing a critical fuel shortage which had lead to power cuts, the rationing of water and the closure of some schools, reports Radio Australia's Pacific Beat.

Local residents and the government are blaming a delay in shipping services for the situation.

The fuel from the Island's commercial outlets ran out two weeks ago and at Fiji's Public Works Depot on the island last week. Fuel is delivered to Rotuma once a month. But there are often delays in its arrival and the delivery of other essential items such as health supplies and food.

The Ministry's Outer Islands, Water Works Supervisor Tomoniko Mausio says this is why water rations have had to be introduced until more fuel becomes available.


From Curleen Taukave in California (6 August 2006)

Project Rotuma has scheduled a container of goods and supplies for Rotuma, in October. To date, we have walkers, wheelchairs, commodes, beds and basic hospital supplies.

We appeal to our community here in the USA to contribute items towards this container. We are accepting any items in good condition that may be utilized by the hospital, 'os gagaj mamfua', or schools. Decorative wall hangings, kitchen pots, pans and appliances and additional items, we will gladly send to the hospital. Be creative. You may write or engrave 'Hospital' across or under your donated product and 'your name' as the donor followed by 'USA'. We will acknolwedge all donors on a final list that will be posted on our site.

In addition, we are accepting pre-packaged Christmas cakes. Please make a difference in the lives of our community members in Rotuma this Christmas by sending in your donated items.

Ahead of sending backpacks for school children, PJR prioritized $5000 USD in scholarship funds for Form 6 students in Rotuma for 2007. Underpriviledged students are included in a seperate draft.

You may contact Jacob Uruvaru (707) 363-1000 or John Osotonu on (650) 278-1603 or Ace Osotonu (925) 848-5545 to discuss your donations. Noa'ia e hanisi se os kainag ne noh e os Atmot ta.

From Fijitimes Online (5 August 2006)

Rotumans to blame for fuel problem

THE fuel problem on Rotuma is not a new thing, says businessman John Fatiaki.

Mr Fatiaki said it started when Mobil pulled out from the island after problems with landowners.

"The company leased on land owned by more than one mataqali and people started making claims and threats to the company," Mr Fatiaki said.

"The problem was caused by us Rotumans," he said.

"If we had allowed Mobil to continue its operation on the island we would not have a crisis.

"We had planned with Mobil that after 10 to 15 years, the people of Rotuma would buy off the property. It did not happen as some people had other ideas and spoilt the plan." Mr Fatiaki expressed concern for the situation and hopes good sense will prevail and authorities will help them.

"The onus is on the Rotuman Council and the Government to help the island before the situation worsens," he said.

Senator Dr John Fatiaki said he spoke with fellow Rotuman rep in the House, Jioji Konrote.

"He told me the authorities were looking at it."

Schools, water and transport were affected.

Water and fuel were being rationed.

The next shipment of fuel is due in 12 days when the Cagi mai Ba makes its monthly call.

From Fijitimes Online (4 August 2006)

Crisis on island

SCHOOLS have closed and transportation is limited because of a fuel shortage on Rotuma, it has been revealed.

Water and electricity services have shut down in Fiji's northernmost island after fuel supplies reached critical levels yesterday.

Senator Doctor John Fatiaki is asking the Government to send emergency relief supplies before the situation worsens.

Speaking from Rotuma, Dr Fatiaki said there was no fuel and it had greatly affected the lives of the islanders.

"It has become an emergency situation, a crisis because everything depends on fuel and there is nothing much we can do about it at the moment," he said.

"The supply of fuel from commercial outlets dried up two weeks ago while the fuel at the Public Works Department finished five days ago.

"Fuel is delivered to the island on a monthly basis but the problem is that authorities here are being supplied less than what they really require."

Dr Fatiaki said water, electricity, education and work had been affected by the fuel shortage.

He said since there was no fuel to operate the water pump, piped water supply was cut.

"We only have water running in our taps for two hours every day if we are lucky but because of the low pressure, some houses do not get water at all," Dr Fatiaki said.

He said the Lepjea and Fagrafi water pumps were rationing their supply of water with what little fuel they had left.

Dr Fatiaki said the only fuel left was used to operate the main generator and the water pumps, both of which could run out at any time.

Medical officer in Rotuma Dr Susana Pene said the hospital had a limited amount of standby fuel for their generator.

She said the hospital was fortunate that there were no emergency cases during the fuel shortage.

"We have a limited amount and we are rationing it, hoping that it will last until the next shipment arrives," she said.

Dr Fatiaki said the people of Rotuma would have to endure another 12 days without fuel until the boat Cagi Mai Ba was expected to arrive.

He said no transport services on the island were operating, which affected schools and work in all seven districts on Rotuma.

"The high school has been closed down because not many students are attending classes and there is also no water in the school," he said.

Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi said although he was not aware of the situation in Rotuma he felt for the people.

"Energy is something that is important especially for those in the rural and outlying islands.

"Since this problem involves a lot of ministries we should be looking at countering it any time soon," he said.

"Now that the case has been drawn to our attention, relevant authorities will act on it."

Education acting chief executive officer Filipe Jitoko said the ministry was not aware of the closure of Rotuma High School or the problems it was facing.


From Fijitimes Online (4 August 2006)

Tongan vessel takes over island runs

A FOREIGN vessel has been chartered to service the routes of an inter-island that has been stuck on a reef for over a month.

Kadavu Provincial Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo said a Tongan vessel had been chartered to service the Bulou ni Ceva's routes.

The Bulou ni Ceva ran aground on a reef off Rotuma more than a month ago.

"The Kadavu Shipping Company has decided to charter the vessel Palupaki, currently berthed at the Narain Jetty," he said.

"We have agreed to the charter agreements, which is for the Palupaki to continue to service the Kadavu and Rotuma routes and possibly the yasayasa Moala run, which is under the State franchise scheme.

"This service will continue while the Bulou ni Ceva is salvaged and brought back to Suva for repairs.

"The charter will possibly be for a period of six months in which time we expect repair works on the Bulou ni Ceva to be completed and ready for service.

Ratu Josateki said they realised how important shipping services were to people on the outer islands.

"We would like to assure the people of Kadavu, Rotuma and other government franchise that their concerns for regular shipping will be dealt with in the next few weeks," he said. "The Palupaki is expected to sail for Kadavu ports this week."

Ratu Josateki said the council was looking at buying a new vessel from China and possibly selling the Bulou ni Ceva.

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