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Biosecurity officers boarded a barge in Port Vila Harbour Monday loaded with imported aggregates or sealing chips from Fiji, for use in the road reconstruction project in Port Vila and Efate.
The barge is owned by Ocean Logistics Limited of Port Vila.
The barge arrived from Fiji without any certification from Fiji Biosecurity authorities to confirm its cargo had been treated in line with established biosecurity procedures.
Vanuatu Biosecurity Director, Timothy Tumukon, said he immediately sent a biosecurity officer to Fiji to verify the processes used in Fiji to prepare the sealing chips for shipment to Vanuatu.
The Director said the impasse was cleared by his officer who is now back in Vanuatu.
Fiji biosecurity authorities confirmed having followed normal procedures to prepare the shipment but Director Tumukon said there was a “communication breakdown” between the Suva-based agent and Gold Rock Investment, which ran an article on the front page of Fiji Sun, of its first shipment of sealing chips to Vanuatu last week.
The giant barge has been isolated from the wharf to allow two Biosecurity Border Control Technical Assistants, Tom Alick and Moise Peter, to board the vessel, in the presence of importer Andrew Bond, to check the sealing chips on “a random inspection” and they were both satisfied the process used in Fiji was thorough and complete, including washing the aggregates clean before shipment.
Speaking for the vessel, Andrew Bond confirmed this is their first shipment from Fiji after the company purchased the barge from Fiji this year.
He also confirmed they are carrying aggregates for the roadworks in Vanuatu.
Gold Rock Investment General Manager Joseva Gavoka said, “Companies are contracted for road and civil building in Vanuatu.
“Our first export companies are very experienced and well established in the region. They understand the values of quality and delivery.”
Ocean Logistics Limited chief operating officer, Sean Griffin said the ship would boost trading ties between Fiji and Vanuatu.
“Fiji is a steady economy in the Pacific, and such shipment would also be a positive indicator of the Melanesian Spearhead Group relationship,” Griffin said.
These aggregates are similar to those used on the Efate Ring Road which was crushed at Emua. With the current road works on Efate as well as the Port Vila International Airport, the country would benefit big time if volcanic rock could be crushed in the country instead of being imported from New Caledonia or Fiji.
The problem is that there is no crushing machinery in Vanuatu and it would be a very expensive investment, costing approximately Vt900 million (US$8.4 million).
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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