British Columbia Ferries [BCF] continues to keep secret the sale price of the Queen of Chilliwack, the 38-year-old vessel now plying Fijian waters as Lomaiviti Princess III, and operated by Goundar Shipping Ltd
Fijileaks: Subarmani "George" Goundar had claimed to Fiji Times in March 2014 that he was in “Canada for more than five weeks to seal the deal on the third vessel,” which was “bought for $3 million”. Strange, the vessel was ONLY listed for abrupt sale and one day viewing in April 2015. On 9 September 2015 Goundar told Fiji media that he finally sealed the deal on Friday 4 September to buy the Chilliwack. He said the negotiations over the acquisition took about two years. The BCF spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said in a recent statement that the Queen of Chilliwack was sold to N&J Mechanical Distributors Ltd of Vancouver B.C., who subsequently sold the vessel to Goundar Shipping of Fiji in September 2015. In August 2015 Bainimarama inspected it with Goundar. Did Bainimarama travel to Canada in August on a private visit to give his seal of approval? Or did his FFP government financially chip in ?
* The Queen of Chilliwack, after a $15million upgrade, was expected to be retired in 2016 or later;
* In March 2014, a story in the Fiji Times stated that George Goundar, managing director of Goundar Shipping Ltd, a former long-serving employee of B.C. Ferries, was in “Canada for more than five weeks to seal the deal on the third vessel,” which was “bought for $3 million” ($C1.8 million); it was to sail to “Fiji from Canada” after amendments to Fiji’s maritime laws came into effect;
* However, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said in a recent interview that the Queen of Chilliwack wasn’t sold to Goundar Shipping until September 2015; later confirmed by Goundar; however, he didn't state that he bought it off N&J Mechanical Distributors Ltd of Vancouver B.C;
* On 14 January 2016 BCF issued a press release stating the following:
(a) BC Ferries conducted a competitive bid process related to the sale of the Queen of Chilliwack;
(b) BC Ferries posted a Request for Expressions of Interest on the company’s website in April 2015 to attract bidders;
(c) Six previously identified interested parties were also contacted to advise them that the ship was for sale;
(d) Two potential bidders attended a vessel viewing and BC Ferries received two compliant bids in May 2015;
(e) The bids were competitive with each other and BC Ferries evaluated the bids, which stipulated the company’s preference to sell the vessel for ongoing trade;
(f) The vessel was ultimately sold to N&J Mechanical Distributors Ltd of Vancouver B.C., who subsequently sold the vessel to Goundar Shipping of Fiji in September 2015;
(g) BC Ferries cannot disclose the price the company received for the Queen of Chilliwack, as three other ferries will be retired soon and offered for sale. The company needs to protect the competitive bid processes for those sales and maximize the price received for those ships.
Fijileaks: So, it is clear that Goundar did not buy it off BCF nor he had bought the Queen of Chilliwack for $3million in March 2014, as he boasted to the Fiji Times. When Bainimarama visited Canada and was inspecting the vessel, was it owned by N&J Mechanical Distributors Ltd, Vancouver B.C, who subsequently sold it to Goundar in September 2015?
* In January 2016 the FFP government amended the Ships Registration Act 2015. The Bill to amend the Ships Registration Act 2014 was passed in Parliament on November 20, 2015 (two months after BCF claims Goundar purchased the Chilliwack); amendment gave room for Goundar to purchase the 38-year Queen of Chilliwack for $3million; the old Bill had prevented ship owners from registering ships that were over 20 years old; Goundar had written to Bainimarama to change the old Bill;
* In August 2015 Bainimarama visited Canada and along with Goundar inspected the Queen of Chilliwack (a month later, in September, sold to Goundar); and now renamed Lomaiviti Princess III; see below Frank Bainimarama and wife Mary inspecting Queen of Chilliwack with Goundar
On 19 January Bainimarama launched the Queen of Chilliwack as Lomaiviti Princess III
"George’s own story is one that I believe is symbolic of the new direction that Fiji is taking and the new vision that drives my Government’s decisions. He returned to Fiji, after migrating to British Columbia, because he never forgot the country of his youth, his beloved Fiji. He placed his confidence in my Government and in our policies, and the ability of our people to move Fiji forward towards greater stability and prosperity. I am pleased to announce that Goundar Shipping will also invest $10 million over the next three years to bring two more ships and construct a 5,000 ton floating dock..." - Frank Bainimarama, 19 January
“I would like to first thank the Prime Minister for his faith and support in paving the way for me returning as an investor to this country. We enjoy the good business environment and the incentives by your Government,” Mr Goundar said. “At this point in the history of this nation, my history did not matter. My sense of gratitude goes to this Government in making me feel that I am a Fijian and I belong to this great country.” - Goundar
Mr. George Goundar, President of Goundar Shipping,
Friends and employees of Goundar Shipping,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.
Each time we inaugurate a new service or a new piece of national infrastructure, we take another step—a step that breaks barriers, a step that brings Fijians closer together, a step toward greater national prosperity, a step that creates more opportunity for Fijians. That is because a road, an electrical grid, a school or a ship is more than what we see before us, more than its physical form.
Every investment we make is an investment in people. And every investment we make weaves and strengthens the fabric of our national life. So a modern, well-equipped school building is not just a building; it is a future of learning and possibilities for the children who will one day lead this country. And a road is more than a ribbon of asphalt; it connects families, it creates community, it gives farms and factories access to markets.
In that way, this ship, the Lomaiviti Princess III, is more than just a ship. If it were only a ship, I probably would not be her to launch it. But this ship is part of our national communications network. To be truly united for commerce and connected as a nation, Fiji needs a network of highways, air routes and maritime routes that link Labasa to Lautoka, Rotuma to Suva, and Koro and Kadavu to Taveuni.
Sea travel needs to be as modern, comfortable and safe as highway travel, integrated in purpose and function until it forms one seamless web. The Lomaiviti Princess III does that. Last week I was in the North, and I had the pleasure of inaugurating the new highway extension linking Nabouwalu to Dreketi. It is part of a highway that winds through the very heart of Vanua Levu, and it is critical to the economy and social well-being of the island. And the Nabouwalu Jetty is one of its most important points. When this ship docks at the Nabouwalu Jetty, it will effectively extend that highway directly to Viti Levu.
Well, we have had ships before, of course, but the new Lomaiviti Princess III is bigger and more comfortable. It will carry more people and more vehicles, and it is worthy of the nation I believe we are capable of becoming.
I am a retired Navy man, and I know what it is to be at sea. When I travel our islands to visit with and listen to the Fijian people, I travel by ship. I most certainly do not fly! So I understand what it is to spend many hours over open water, to know that your life depends on the skill, experience and judgment of the captain. I know what it means to have confidence in the professionalism of the crew, and I understand the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the ship is properly maintained and that the company keeps to the highest maritime standards.
This ship did admirable service in British Columbia, Canada, before Goundar Shipping bought it and upgraded it for service here in Fiji. Prior to a recent amendment to the ship registration decree in the budget session, ships older than 20 years could not be brought into Fiji. But thanks to this common sense reform, these older vessels can be imported once they’ve met stringent safety requirements. This allows older vessels that still carry a lot of value, to be re-fitted to serve our market without sacrificing the safety of our passengers.
We now have the flexibility to enlarge our shipping fleet and provide more opportunities to invest in shipping services to our outer islands as opposed to subsidising un-economical inter-island air services. In this way, we improves our services and better spend tax-payer funds without losing vital access to our outer island communities.
I also understand as well as anyone that people need basic creature comforts on the 10- to 12-hour voyage between Suva and Savusavu. It’s a long voyage, so the attention to keeping passengers comfortable is important: The film room, the cabins, the comfortable lounges, the children’s play areas, all make the voyage shorter and easier to endure. This ship will also service a route to Kadavu, great news for a growing tourism destination that can now look forward to even greater development.
This vessel can carry 700 passengers and the vehicle deck where we sit right now has the capacity to load 40 ten wheeler trucks or 150 cars. And it has comfortable seating, cabins and dining facilities, play areas for children, emergency medical care, and accommodations for the disabled. The Fijian people deserve no less.
This new vessel is also bringing employment opportunities for 40 people who will become members of the ship’s crew. This will be a great opportunity to gain experience on the open seas and begin a rewarding career helping us stay more connected as a nation.
I am pleased to note that Goundar Shipping’s stated vision is “to continuously improve the island coastal travel experience in Fiji through excellence in service and innovation” and that it values safety, environmental responsibility, integrity and service. Those are the values that George Goundar learned from his family and community growing up in Koro. They are the values that make Goundar Shipping an ideal partner for Government, because those are the very values that drive my government and the very values that will propel Fiji into the future.
George knows that Goundar Shipping is more than a business. It provides a vital service, and that makes it a business that serves the people, that upholds the national interest, and that keeps the well-being of the Fijian people foremost.
George’s own story is one that I believe is symbolic of the new direction that Fiji is taking and the new vision that drives my Government’s decisions. He returned to Fiji, after migrating to British Columbia, because he never forgot the country of his youth, his beloved Fiji. He placed his confidence in my Government and in our policies, and the ability of our people to move Fiji forward towards greater stability and prosperity.
I am pleased to announce that Goundar Shipping will also invest $10 million over the next three years to bring two more ships and construct a 5,000 ton floating dock. This is a huge investment for our shipping industry and will be the first dock of its kind in Fiji. It will give us space for even larger ships and allow us to build our shipping industry into a modern and efficient operation that will bring greater development and growth to our island economy.
I’ve gone all over the world re-connecting with our Fijian diaspora because I believe that we are strongest when we stand united as a global community. So I take a lot of pride in George’s decision to return and in Goundar Shipping’s further investments, because both reflect commitment to our new Fiji.
It is for everyone’s benefit when our Fijian family abroad contributes their resources and expertise to help build up our country and invest in our ability – so I will continue to re-build our relationships with Fijians across the globe and encourage them to take advantage of the investment opportunities and incentives that await them back home in Fiji.
Today, those efforts have brought us the Lomaiviti Princess III and a promising future for our shipping industry and in the days to come, I look forward to the future infrastructure development and investment opportunities we can bring to the Fijian people.
With those few words, I now officially launch Lomaiviti Princess III.
Fijileaks: A Commission of Inquiry 'chilliwhacking' BCF to disclose how much was the Queen of Chilliwack sold for to N&J Mechanical Distributors Ltd and subsequently on to Goundar Shipping Ltd will lead to the depth of truth as British Columbians are drowning in high ferry fares and raging in sea of anger over the fire sale of the sea worthy Chilliwack:
"BRITISH Columbians facing massive increases in ferry fares deserve to know why BC Ferries poured $15 million into a refit for a vessel, then practically gave it away. BC Ferries spent $15 million refitting the Queen of Chilliwack, then almost immediately turned around to sell it at more than a $13 million loss. It’s no surprise that Christy Clark’s government and BC Ferries are hiding the sale price of the Queen of Chilliwack to a company in Fiji. They sold this ferry for a fraction of the cost of what they paid to refit it.” - New Democrat deputy spokesperson on BC Ferries Gary Holman.
Fijileaks: Both Fiji First government and Goundar Shipping are not responding: whether Bainimarama's government chipped in the extra millions, for it beggars belief that BCF would just give away the Queen of Chilliwack for a measly $3million when it spent over $15m refitting it?
January 14, 2016
The Queen of Chilliwack was sold to a Fijian ferry company owned by a former BC Ferries executive. Meanwhile, Sunshine Coast residents are complaining about the “junk ferries” used to replace their ailing regular service ship. Powell River Mayor David Formosa called the repeated mechanical problems forcing ferries out of service for the 48,000 residents of the Sunshine Coast both a fiasco and “a huge problem.”
Residents complain that replacement “junk ferries” have been foisted on them.
This is not just a problem for inconvenienced Sunshine Coast residents. It’s a public relations shipwreck for BC Ferries.
Three times in the last year residents had to cancel long-scheduled medical appointments, business meetings or family visits because BC Ferries couldn’t maintain the reliable service levels its service contract specifies.
Last week BC Ferries warned truckers hauling freight to Powell River about space limitations. Relief vessels for the out-of-service Queen of Burnaby — engineers are trying to fix a recurring propulsion problem — carry far fewer vehicles.
And so truckers hauling everything from fresh produce to baby food were urged to travel via Vancouver Island, avoiding the Earls Cove-Saltery Bay crossing, which links the north and south portions of the Sunshine Coast. That ferry carries only 49 vehicles and won’t take reservations. This lengthens by 40 per cent Vancouver-Powell River travel for the time-sensitive trucking business.
So why did BC Ferries sell off the newly refurbished Queen of Chilliwack when it did, thus reducing its relief capacity when adequate replacement vessels can’t be ready before year’s end?
How much did BC Ferries get for selling this asset for which the public paid — and how much will that return help offset new equipment costs? Reports are that the ship was sold for $1.8 million, an 88-per-cent markdown from the value of its refits. BC Ferries won’t disclose price.
The first question is justified because relief vessels deployed to the Sunshine Coast represent a service reduction. An actual service reduction requires approval by the ferry commissioner. This skates by under a provision for temporary service disruptions due to mechanical failure.
The second question is justified because the public paid to refit the Queen of Chilliwack to top operational condition. It could have served as a relief vessel. Instead it was sold. It seems reasonable to ask what the return on that investment was and how it compared to opportunity losses from inadequate relief service. And it’s disingenuous for BC Ferries not to disclose the selling price by arguing disclosure might undercut bidding for future sales of obsolete ferries.
BC Ferries bought the Queen of Chilliwack for $10.8 million in 1991. The corporation then spent more than $20 million in three refits — $2.2 million in 1991, $3.1 million in 1996 and $15 million in 2010. These refits conveniently extended its life across the period in which replacement vessels would be under construction.
Yet last April, BC Ferries abruptly listed the ship, which it noted was in “operational reserve” and ready for use. The closing date for sale was set for 24 days later with one day for viewing. The Queen of Chilliwack was snapped up by a former senior BC Ferries manager who left and started a ferry company in the South Seas. The buyer described the ship as being “of very high standard, has updated technological equipment and state of the art passenger facilities.” [Fijileaks: We may recall that Goundar had claimed to Fiji Times in March 2014 that he was in “Canada for more than five weeks to seal the deal on the third vessel,” which was “bought for $3 million” - a month and year before it was even listed for sale?; BCF spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said in a recent interview that the Queen of Chilliwack wasn’t sold to Goundar Shipping until September 2015; a month after Bainimarama inspected it with Goundar.]
Deborah Marshall, director of public affairs for BC Ferries, confirmed the Queen of Chilliwack was sold to Goundar Shipping Limited, an inter-island ferry service in Fiji launched five years ago by George Goundar. A native Fijian and marine engineer by training, Goundar spent more than 20 years in senior roles with BC Ferries, according to the company’s website.
In 2011, Goundar purchased the decommissioned Queen of Prince Rupert, renamed it the Lomaiviti Princess and started a new inter-island cargo and passenger service, which is now Fiji’s largest.
So how much did Goundar pay for the Queen of Chilliwack, what was the actual value of refits and what was the rationale for pricing and sales timing? If BC Ferries isn’t saying, more of the travelling public should be asking anyway.
Ferry customers, whose fares increased at rates that far outstrip inflation, provided 98 per cent of BC Ferries’ revenue on major routes in fiscal 2015. Their provincial government is the de facto owner. Taxpayers have a legitimate interest in knowing the return on an asset for which they paid the lion’s share, especially when that sale and its timing result in reduced service for many travellers without alternatives. The Vancouver Sun, 14 January 2016
THE Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) will no longer register overseas purchased ships that are over 20 years old. This is in accordance with Section 3(c) of the Ship Registration (Amendment) Act 2014, which came into force on January 1, 2015. This move however has not been welcomed by the Local Shipowners Association, who said that MSAF was unprofessional in imposing these strict guidelines within a short period of time without proper consultations. Goundar Shipping owner, George Goundar said government could have looked into the manufacturers and details surrounding the assembling and make of the vessels. "No one here in Fiji can afford to buy brand new vessels, not even the Government," Goundar said. He said they had won a tender for two vessels which was expected to arrive into the country before Easter. "This has affected our operations and the purchasing of the third and fourth vessel has been put on hold, because of this new law," Goundar added. He said he would write to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Transport Minister Pio Tikoduadua to raise his concerns on this new law. (Source: Fiji Times (FT))
January 2016: Ships Act opens way to purchase vessels over 20 years old
SHIPPING operators wishing to purchase vessels that are more than 20 years old can now do so, but at the discretion of Transport Minister as stated in the newly-amended Ships Registration Act 2015. The Bill to amend the Ships Registration Act 2014 was passed in Parliament on November 20 last year and this gave room for Goundar Shipping Ltd to purchase a 38-year-old vessel, now named the Lomaiviti Princess III. The old Ships Registration (Amended) Act 2014 disallowed the registration of vessels that were more than 20 years old. Goundar said the previous owner had completed an upgrade of the vessel two years ago, and it's now one of the most technologically advanced in the country. "I had worked on this vessel in 2002 when I was in Canada, so I'm familiar with this vessel," Goundar said.
Fijileaks: How could Goundar have bought Queen of Chilliwack in March 2014 when BCF put out Request for Expression of Interest on
28 April 2015?
BC Ferries intends to sell the Queen of Chilliwack (QoC) and hereby invite potential bidders to submit responses to this request for expression of interest. This offer is open now and closes on Friday 22 May 2015 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.
The QoC is a Ro-Ro passenger vehicle ferry of approximately: 100 meters, 3440 tons displacement, 700 tons Deadweight capacity, passenger and crew capacities of 380 and 19 respectively, with a car capacity of 115 with the two platforms deployed. The vessel is powered by four Bergen 6 cylinder diesel engines rated at 1150 Brake Horsepower each driving four mechanically connected right angle drives. The vessel’ Class of voyage is “Near Coastal 2” and is classed by Lloyd’s Register of Canada. Documentation applicable to the vessel will be available to the bidders for review at the open house on 13 May 2015 in Richmond British Columbia Canada.
BC Ferries provides the information in this package for the sole use of prospective buyers who intend to submit an expression of interest regarding this vessel offered for sale. Prospective buyers use this information at their own risk and while BC Ferries believes the information to be accurate when it was collected, it does not warrant or guarantee the information in any way.
The Queen of Chilliwack is in an operational reserve condition and ready for sale after the expression of interest has closed. The actual sale closing date will be negotiated with the successful bidder. The vessel will be available on one day only for showing / tour on Wednesday 13 May 2015 at the BC Ferries Fleet Maintenance Unit, 12800 Rice Mill Road, Richmond British Columbia, Canada, V6W 1A1 from 10:00 – 15:00 local time. Prospective bidders must pre-register for this tour by contacting the undersigned in writing (e-mail is sufficient) indicating number of participants and company or organization being represented. Bidders must have approved safety footwear, i.e. steel toed shoes or boots, and will be required to sign a standard waiver of liability before entering the shipyard.
BC Ferries’ preference is to sell the vessel for ongoing trade, but expressions of interest from ship breakers will also be taken in the event that an ongoing trade sale is not forthcoming.
Your expression of interest should reference the Queen of Chilliwack, RFEOI number 1-2015 VRP, and should briefly describe:
• the applicable company, group or person interested in purchase of this vessel;
• the intended use of the vessel; and
• the proposed terms of sale (timing, price, equipment included, and any other conditions).
Please contact the undersigned if you should require any additional information to prepare your expression of interest for purchase.
BC Ferries is not under any obligation to award a contract, and reserves the right to terminate or amend the RFEOI process at any time for any reason. Award of a contract is conditional upon approval thereof by BC Ferries Executive Management. These conditions are solely for the benefit of BC Ferries and may be unilaterally waived by it. By submitting a Proposal bidders acknowledge and agree that BC Ferries may for any reason cancel or amend this RFEOI process at any time whether prior to the Closing Date or following the Closing Date, provided that a written Contract has not been executed. After cancellation, BC Ferries will not be under any obligation to any Bidder and BC Ferries may reissue a request for expression of interest for the same or a similar project at any time after cancellation of this RFEOI, or negotiate directly and conclude an agreement with any Bidder or other third party at any time.
Your expression of interest, complete with offer details should be submitted for the purchase of the Queen of Chilliwack, directly to me via e-mail (email@example.com) or to my attention at BC Ferries, 1321 Blanshard Street, Suite 500, Victoria BC, Canada, V8W 0B7 by facsimile or registered mail.
Published: April 28, 2015
Closing Date: May 22, 2015
Closing Time: 12:00 pm