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Postings for this forum will be limited to suggestions as to what can or should be done to resolve the problem. Please do not send comments concerned with assigning responsibility or blame for the current crisis, or with issues associated with past history. Solving this problem will be easier if all Rotumans, and others concerned with the island's environment, pull together.

Derelict vessel
The Bulou Ni Ceva at the wharf at Oinafa

From Vilsoni Hereniko, recently returned from Rotuma (26 July 2007)

I am most concerned that this eyesore is still at the Oinafa wharf, with no plans for its removal. The boat ruins the beauty of Oinafa beach and there is an urgent need to have it removed. If we don't do anything, I think it will sit there for a very long time, probably forever! What can we do to provoke those who can do something about it to take action?

From Capt. Fuata Jione in Brisbane (27 July 2007)

Given the condition of the vessel any salvage work or attempts to re-float it will be more difficult and expensive than the work carried out to re-float her from the reef off Lopta. The vessel appears to be unstable and the hull structure and water integrity appears to have been lost through corrosion and damage during the grounding at Lopta. However, if my assessment is wrong then I suggest bringing in a tug boat and towing the vessel out to deeper waters and letting it disappear from sight. As to who is going to pay for this, well obviously the Government and the Rotuma Island Council should fund the removal of the wreck and resort to legal means to recover the cost from the legal owners. I do not envisage Kadavu Shipping and their insurance doing anything and the vessel in its current condition is unserviceable, so should be sent to the bottom of the ocean out of sight.

If the wreck is not removed soon it will remain there for many years. The only solution left is to carve up any thing above the water line and extend the wharf out by covering it with rocks. After all, the beautiful beach has already been damaged by the decision to erect the wharf at Oinafa.

Lastly, the Rotuma Island Council should not allow Kadavu Shipping to service Rotuma in the future until they have cleaned up their mess. It’s time the people of Rotuma get together and and act on the many good ideas that have been floated over the years for the development of Rotuma. The Rotuma Island Council must do more; after all, they are the custodians of our beautiful Rotuma and its people.

From Victor Fatiaki in Suva (1 August 2007)

The Rotuman people in Fiji and Rotuma should learn a lot of things out of the Bulou Ni Ceva saga  and make sure that history does not repeat itself. There was a lot of talk in the past to appoint a think tank group comprised of all Rotuman professionals to meet and advise the Rotuma Council on any issues that may require outside assistance. This is not happening.  

The current condition of the Bulou Ni Ceva

Judging by the photo taken by Professor Hereniko and from reliable sources in Rotuma, she has taken water and sand into her cargo hatches and engine room compartments. This is a clear indication that  her hull has been breached and is sitting on the sand. The condition of the steel plating is unknown; however,  I will say that the underwater plating must have been rusted badly. In the event of refloating she might sink while being towed through the passage and there is a real danger of  blocking the channel and preventing ships from coming in.      

What are the options for the Bulou Ni Ceva?

This is a very good question and I for one, would recommend the following:-

  1. The Government should re-negotiate with the contractor that refloated her off Lopta reef to finish off the job even though it will probably cost a lot more than the initial offer.
  2. Ask the navy to blow up the vessel into pieces and hire a barge with a crane to lift the plates on shore. The plates could be used for bbq, reinforcement for the Oinafa jetty plus many other ways of utilizing  the steel plating. 
  3. Ask professional salvagers for quotes to remove the wreck and let them do the job. This is an expensive option, but it will be professionally done while taking into account the environmental impact of the salvage etc.

From Vilsoni Hereniko in Honolulu (2 August 2007)

I want to thank Victor Fatiaki for his suggestions on what to do about Bulou Ni Ceva. What concerns me the most is his comment:

"In the event of refloating she might sink while being towed through the passage and there is a real danger of blocking the channel and preventing ships from coming in."

While I was in Rotuma (for 4 weeks) recently, this was the option that most people on the island that I talked to thought made the most sense. Victor's comment makes me realize more than ever how urgent this matter is. The longer the boat sits there, the less likely there will be a happy ending to this saga. I think it is important that all Rotumans who are concerned about Rotuma and preserving the beauty of Oinafa beach put our heads together to think about how we can help.

I know that Jioji Konrote and John Fatiaki are doing the best they can to do something about the situation, and I believe they are our best hope. I have every confidence in these two gentlemen and am most grateful to them for what they have done in the past and are still doing for Rotuma. If one (or both of them) could explain where things stand at the moment regarding the boat, we'd all be better informed. And in a better position to help them and the Rotuma Council.

From Rejieli Flexman in Sydney (3 August 2007)

I wish to thank Professor Herenilko for bringing to our homes the picture of the boat at Oinafa wharf. It must be an absolute eyesore for everyone who sees it. I think this is the first time for our global community to be made aware of the seriousness of the situation in Rotuma. Like many people, I have heard about it but when I saw the picture, I felt quite sad and full of pity. Victor has raised a very important point and it seems like it may have to be up to us Rotuman people (which it shouldn't be) to think of a quick solution to help our island. We are all waiting anxiously for Kadavu Shipping and the Government to come to our aid, but for how long do we have to wait while the boat continues to sink into the beautiful sandy beach. Please, we don't want the wreckage to appear like it's a monument.

I am deeply grateful to several of our Rotuman people for the continuous efforts to keep the dialogue alive with the parties concerned.

The reality is that money is the problem; we need finances urgently to enable work to be carried out. Our people have very big hearts for our island but may I say this--that this is one time that all of us Rotuman people and our friends need more than just a big heart. Can we put our hands into our pockets and raise some money? If we, as a global community, are prepared to take the initiative in this case, then we can put pressure on the Government and the Shipping Co. to match it for dollar for dollar. With our hearts, our hands and our our prayers, our combined efforts just might raise the necessary amount required to move the boat away from Rotuma. This is a one-off case and I'm sure that we are all at a desperate point, so what shall we do ? I had many sleepless nights when the boat went aground on the reef at my village of Lopta. What a relief when it was refloated. But now this. This problem concerns all of us Rotuman people no matter where we live.

We all call Rotuma home. Now our home needs our help. May God help us all.

From Dr John Fatiaki in Suva (30 August 2007)

May I first extend my warmest greetings to all our relatives and the Rotuman diaspora and thank all the contributors who have expressed their concerns about the situation with the Bulou Ni Ceva wreck at Oinafa.

May I also apologise for not having responded earlier; however, as much work and effort was being put into trying to resolve the issue, I felt it more appropriate to respond when these efforts had translated into something concrete and tangible in the way of a solution to our problem. But I can assure you all that your concerns and sentiments are shared by all Rotumans on the island, in Fiji and by the Council.

In brief, the Bulou Ni Ceva was removed from the Lopta reef in August 2006 after most of the fuel and oil had been removed by Workboats Fiji. It was then towed to the Oinafa wharf where it was moored pending a decision by the Kadavu Shipping Co and the Dominion Insurance Co on whether the boat would be towed back to Fiji after temporary repairs were effected or whether it would be towed out to deep water and sunk.

These "talks" from Sept through November seemed headed for a decision when the events of December 2006 occurred. Unfortunately, as the situation in the country was in a state of flux, we were unable to get a definitive decision from anyone then, and all progress ground to a halt as we returned to the island to inform the Council of the new state of affairs in the country in Dec 2006.

Responding to the request of the Council that we continue to act as representatives of the Rotuman people, we returned to Fiji in February 2007 and began the process of meetings with new ministers, CEOs, etc as we attempted to attend to the many issues affecting the island (including the Bulou Ni Ceva wreck).

These culminated in a ministerial and government delegation to the island in May that has been touched upon by George in his earlier hanuju piece, and which committed to many requests, of which the removal of the Bulou Ni Ceva was paramount.
I returned to the island in July following a Cabinet meeting which endorsed and approved funding for all our proposals.

A follow-up team from Rotuma (Chairman Tarterani Rigamoto, Gagaj Maraf, Gagaj Mora, and the Pepjei Mata Penamino Tavo) met with the Minister of Transport, Works and Energy and the Prime Minister last Monday where I made a presentation on these issues. The grounds of our submission were that the ship is now a:

  • derelict vessel
  • a hazard to navigation
  • an environmental disaster waiting to happen and most importantly
  • an EYESORE

We received a favourable response and an assurance from the PM that the matter would be attended to within a month.

I am therefore heartened to note that in today's Fiji Times (30 August, page 50) a tender asking for expressions of interest from companies to salvage, refloat, tow and sink the Bulou Ni Ceva in deep water was printed.

We will continue to pursue the issue, but am hopeful that with your prayers, we will see this eyesore off our island before Christmas 2007 at the latest.

We are the contractors ''Workboats Fiji,'' who were contracted to remove the fuel and oil from the vessel. While this was happening we indicated to Government Shipping Director that the vessel could be moved and quoted a price; this was accepted and fuel was supplied to our company for the towing from Rotuma to Suva in October 2006.

Once the vessel was at the wharf we needed a towing permit for our insurance company to bring the vessel back to Suva. We never recieved the contract to tow it back to Suva, nor have we recieved any funds to salvage the vessel off the reef to the wharf. We don't want to leave the vessel there in it's current condition, but we have not been paid the $256,000 for the salvage and towing to Suva, which is half of any other tenders.

Letter after letter to the previous government was send to Government Shipping Director, CEO Ministry of Transport, Minister of Transport, PS PM's Office. These letters were sent from November 2006 till August 2007 with not one reply!

On 30 August 2007 an "Expressions of Interest" was advertised in the Fiji Times (page 50) to remove the Bulou Ni Ceva. We tendered for the removal in order to finalise the job; our name is on the vessel and we wanted it removed.

We agree with the people of Rotuma and the Rotuma Council; the vessel is an eyesore. But the vessel cannot be removed without funds. A tender was submitted and was accepted and we are working within the tender documents.

There have been delays because the availability of shipping and drydocking facilites in Fiji are not good at this time. The Bulou Ni Ceva has been underwater surveyed and the salvage crew is departing for Rotuma at 6 pm on 9 May 2008 on a Government vessel. Patching and pumping work will be done over a three-day period. There are always good and bad conditions; we hope the work will be completed in 2 or 3 days.

The vessel will be floated at the wharf for a two-day period to make sure it is in a stable condition for towing. We will tow the vessel for sinking away from the shipping channel.

As the contractor, we are doing our best. The present Government is urgently pushing us to have the work done. We have been fully assured by Mr John Rounds of Ministry of Transport that the balance of funds will be paid after the vessel is sunk. We accept this and the work is being carried out.

We are tying to finish the salvage work within budget and have been advised by the PS Ministry of Transport to put in a veriation if required. We have employed some overseas salvage personal to have the removal done while the delegation is in Rotuma. Fhe Fiji TV crew are in Rotuma and pictures of the sinking will be presented to the general public.

All in all, we, the contractors, are very much for the removal of the Bulou Ni Ceva. We are attempting to complete the job on time, but everything in Fiji takes time. We know the current Government is fully pushing for the removal of the Bulou Ni Ceva and are trying to have the job finished by 14 May 2008.

A lot of persons think there is nothing happening, but they are wrong. The move to have the Bulou Ni Ceva removed has been happening.

Our email address is if there is any further questions.


Andrew Tinker
Workboats Fiji

Oinafa beach

View from the wharf at Oinafa before the Bulou Ni Ceva was stranded there

photo by Vilsoni Hereniko


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