LOCAL ship operators will soon have to pay between $15,000 to $30, 000 per year under a new ports fee imposed by the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) as of this month under its reform, it was claimed.
This fee known as the ‘Ports Registration Fee’ is being charged per vessel per year based on the length of the boat.
A local ship owner over the weekend has voiced out his dissatisfaction on the latest charge imposed on the local ship owners.
John Kwaita said, the latest ports registration fee is a slap on the face for the local shipping companies operating in the country given the fact that the local shipping industry is a very important industry supporting indigenous people with transportation in the country.
In a post via the social media, he said, back in 2015 local ship owners and operators were slapped with a 150% increase in berth fees at the domestic wharf.
“This 150% increase in any business is suicidal,” the local business man said.
He said, since the 150% increase last year, they have been really struggling to cope with such an increase.
And now, its a registration fee with Ports, he claimed.
“On April 1st local shipping companies in the county have been given another blow with no consultation or negotiation because local ship owners will now pay a new charge that is known as ‘Ports Registration Fees’ per vessel per annum based on the length of each vessel.”
He claimed, the new charges are as follows; ships up to 35 metres long will have to pay $15,000, ships up to 45 metres long – $20,000 and 50 metres upwards – $30,000.
“These charges will come into effect on the 14th April 2016, a very typical 14 days’ notice, we are dumbfounded, angry, confused and discouraged.
“Some local shipping companies have been really struggling with up to 5 vessels and so this is so unfair.
“Aren’t we indigenous enough,” he added.
He said latest charges means there will be an increase in local seafares and freights for all local travellers and most certainly increase in prices of goods when they reach the villages.
“Being an operator for the last 12 years, I thought of keep pressing on with shipping in spite of obvious shipping challenges we face day in day out, serving our people, however I think this is it for me and I’m throwing in the towel, it’s unfair,” he said.
Attempts to get comments from the SIPA management over the issue last night was unsuccessful.
Its understood SIPA under the leadership of Collin Yow has said made a number of changes which had been received with mix reaction.
In one of his recent presentations it was highlighted this reform is aimed at supporting and enhancing the business activities of indigenous people.
By BIRIAU WILSON SAENI