16 Nov 2011

Locals on Tonga's Vava'u puzzled by govt replacing shipping service

6:29 am on 16 November 2011

The agent for Reef Shipping on Vava'u in Tonga is puzzled by the government's backing for a monopoly shipping service between the outer islands and New Zealand.

The government has terminated the licence for New Zealand based Reef Shipping to operate the direct service, after 20 years of operation.

Local company, Jaws South Pacific Shipping, now becomes the sole provider of the once a month service.

Agent Salesi Kauvaka, of Vava'u Shipping Service Limited, says many people are disappointed.

He says Reef Shipping is reliable, efficient and can transport bigger containers more often.

"We need that service that's desperately needed for us. Whether its from Reef Shipping or from any other shipping line, we need that service that the Reef was doing. That's what I'm saying."

Salesi Kauvaka says some locals protested at the decision last week, giving the Vava'u governor a petition criticising the change.