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Archived News: June 2022

From Fiji Times (12 June 2022)

Australian calls out local shipping company

By Shanelle Prasad

Australian Alan Bryne managed to find an alternative way out of Rotuma after Goundar shipping halted its services, but an air ticket was not a commodity that ordinary Rotumans could really afford.

"It cost almost $1000 for two air tickets and I still have $500 in return boat fares that I won't be able to use," he said.

"I am lucky I had money to get back, but ordinary Rotumans and Fijians might not be able to afford that."

He said he had gone to Rotuma with two Rotuman friends so they could visit their relatives.

He said it would be bad for the people of Rotuma as they would be left behind with no kerosene fuel, food, and other necessities.

"The shelves of the shops are empty and the baker only has one day of ingredients to use before he closes his doors and goes back to the farm."

He claimed Goundar shipping was unprofessional and that they didn't just suddenly find out they were running at a loss.

"So why cancel the ships now when people's lives and livelihoods depend on this service. Isn't it a coincidence that contract negotiations start next month?"

Managing director George Goundar in response said the company would refund people's fares in full and refuted claims that they were unprofessional.

"When things don't turn out to be in the favour of the people, then my company gets under the radar and receives all these comments.

"The shelves getting empty is not my problem. Now that's under the Government, I'm just doing what's right by my company and my employees."

From Fiji Times (7 June 2022)

Company claims $5m loss

By Shanelle Prasad

Goundar Shipping managing director George Goundar claims fuel price increases and associated costs have resulted in a loss of $5 million for his business over the past two years.

As a result, he has put a hold on franchise and private runs to Northern Lau, Yasayasa Moala and Rotuma.

Mr Goundar said the company would cease operations to those areas until the price of fuel came down "to a reasonable amount".

"I'm not going to run my company down the hole when I don't have to and I can't run my vessel down on a loss then send over 300 people home and file for bankruptcy," he said.

"We've got shipping up to a level where people are demanding service but somebody has to pay for it.

"We would go to Rotuma once a week and service the other two areas every two weeks and the numbers would not even reach 100, it would be between 50-80 people for each trip."

Mr Goundar said under a franchise arrangement, Government had been giving the company $11,000 to service Yasayasa Moala, $18,000 for Northern Lau and $25,000 for Rotuma.

"For me to go to Yasayasa, it's about 14,000–15,000 litres two ways and that's how much it burns, times the price of $2.80-$3.00, and $45,000 is just for the fuel cost alone. "The company is getting $11,000; do you think it's worthwhile to run the business."

Mr Goundar said his franchise contract was due for renewal next month and if the Government was not willing to raise the subsidy, then there was no point in carrying on services.

Questions sent to Transport Minister Faiyaz Koya yesterday on the comments made by Mr Goundar remain unanswered.

From Fiji Sun (6 June 2022)

Goundar Halts Rotuma Trips

"With the increase of fuel price what can we do with that much and we are expecting another increase next month.

by wati talebula-nuku

The Goundar

Approximately 20,000 travellers will be affected after Goundar Shipping Limited halted its franchise and private runs to the Lau Group and Rotuma yesterday.

Managing director George Goundar said the continuous increase of fuel price had affected the company.

"We had a loss of about $4million last year, but we managed it because the fuel price was low. But with the increased fuel price, we can't do much," Mr Goundar said.

"The franchise the Government is giving us is $11,000 for Yasayasa, $18,000 for Northern Lau and $25,000 for Rotuma.

"With the increase of fuel price what can we do with that much and we are expecting another increase next month.

"I can't run on a loss; I would rather berth my vessels. I started selling my vessels because I did not see a way out.

"Until the fuel price comes down to a reasonable price we will then start operating."

Mr Goundar said his franchise contract was due for renewal next month.