Fiji Ports Corporation Limited: The Smart Green Gateway to Trade in the Pacific Region

Fiji Ports Corporation Pte Limited (FPCL) is a Port Management Company of Fiji. FPCL plays a regulatory role in maintaining standards relating to the main ports of entry into Fiji – Ports of Suva and Lautoka, and Port of Levuka. The Company oversees the operations and International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) requirements for Fiji’s secondary ports of Malau, Vuda and Wairiki, and supplies operation and/or service provision through sub-contractors.

Given Fiji’s strategic location in the centre of the South Pacific, these Ports continue to face an ever-increasing demand on services. We recognise that global economic and societal trends will always be a challenge, as evident by the impact of COVID-19 on the cruise vessel tourism and maritime industry, as well as changes to technological and operational innovations which are also required for greater energy efficiency and economic competitiveness for FPCL. Therefore, FPCL continues to work towards its vision to become the Smart Green Gateway of Trade in the Pacific Region to allow Fiji Ports to optimize on this advantage to facilitate trade for the nation.

COVID-19 impacted livelihoods and economies across the world. Although Pacific Island countries such as Fiji have recorded a smaller number of cases of COVID-19, the Fijian Government was quick to implement public health emergency measures including lockdowns, curfews and physical distancing, travel restrictions, and international border closures to prevent and minimise the spread of the virus. Along with vaccination campaign to ensure all of Fiji got vaccinated. It was quite challenging for industries especially for the downtime in the Marine sector. The on-going contraction of production and consumption, led to reduction in maritime trade, causing disruption in shipping demand and port traffic. Other sectors such as Travel and Tourism have been adversely affected as well due to border closure. However, in terms of trade, whilst the volume of vessels had declined, vessel arrivals remained consistent throughout the year, enabling FPCL to maintain its current workforce to manage its port operations.

As an essential hub in the Pacific, FPCL and its subsidiary company, Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries Pte Limited (FSHIL) and associated company, Fiji Ports Terminal Pte Limited (FPTL) were at the forefront of border control ensuring protocols are followed. Fiji’s ports remained the critical frontline infrastructures as international borders remained shut and airplanes remained grounded during the pandemic, playing a very key role in managing both international and domestic trade, and local inter-island passenger transfers. Stringent measures were put in place by management to mitigate risks and ensure safety is always maintained to ensure that COVID-19 protocols were followed, and trade was allowed to continue.

The challenges that COVID-19 posed to the ports required management to protect staff, business continuity and the wider community. FPCL did this through a range of protocols that reduced risk. FPCL worked very closely with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Fijian Government, taking all necessary precautions with regards to the entry of foreign and local vessels. Austerity measures and the implementation of the FPCL COVID Response Plan were activated to ensure we managed the delicate balance between responding to new COVID-19 restrictions and keeping its ports operational.

As such, FPCL had to re-align its priorities to enable a sense of direction and outline measurable goals. It was critical for FPCL to strategically plan its day-to-day decisions, evaluate progress and change approaches when moving forward. FPCL redirected its plans, continued to mitigate risk, and protected its employees, customers, and stakeholders. Various risk mitigation strategies relating to cost-savings and process improvement initiatives were deployed.

As Fiji underwent lockdowns and curfews, FPCL was proactive in allowing the affected staff to work from home. When necessary, staff worked across departments to ensure operations were not adversely affected during the lock-down phase. FPCL leveraged on remote working, created new business models, re-aligned strategies on how to serve customers while protecting everyone’s (customers and employees) welfare, enhanced technology capabilities and assembled multi-disciplinary teams. FPCL implemented an intelligent operating model (built-in agility, guided by purpose, combining new ways of working with technology) to be better equipped to deal with the pandemic crisis.

Our commitment to serving the people of Fiji was of paramount importance. FPCL strongly believes that in order to maintain its position as the hub of the Region, FPCL needs to continuously review its processes and continuously invest in infrastructure. It is of utter importance to maintain FPCL’s assets and uplifting its standards where possible to ensure the smooth flow of port operations with minimal to no disruptions therefore investing in Ports infrastructure goes in line with FPCL 5-Year Strategic Plan. FPCL continued to roll out several projects which mainly focuses on upgrade works for both FPCL’s main wharves of Suva and Lautoka Ports. The Suva Port which won the Oceania’s Best Cruise Terminal 2021 Award at the World Cruise Awards has a lot of upgrading works underway. This includes the tower light upgrade, maintenance dredging, fender installation, upgrade of toilet facilities, shed & OHS room renovations to name a few. Lautoka Port underwent and is ongoing with a few projects. This includes the Yard 3 and Yard 4 upgrades as well as building facilities upgrades. Other major projects included the Wharf rehabilitation, upgrading of Fiji Ships & Heavy Industries site being undertaken to further upgrade our seaport and ship repair facilities to support and enhance the economic growth and prosperity of Fiji in which these infrastructures assist trade.

FPCL invested significantly towards our digitization and smart port strategies. Installation of the first Vessel Traffic Management System in the South Pacific at the Port of Suva will assist to improve the safety and efficiency of navigation, to safeguard the marine environment at the Suva Harbour and to integrate all the Port’s operational systems. The Online berthing application process was also implemented to harness technology for continuous improvement through further analysis and reporting. It increases efficiency by saving resources, time, and money, and is environmentally friendly. Revenue Automation ensured huge improvements of outgoing manual invoices and raised invoices.

FPCL’s other priorities included its Green Port initiatives which is part of FPCL’s Green Port Master Plan in which FPCL aims at improving efficiency and resilience of port operations and infrastructure, whilst reducing environmental and carbon footprints. FPCL installed several energy efficiencies upgrades such as LED lighting, solar PV systems, replacement of a diesel-powered incinerator with an electric incinerator to reduce FPCL’s cardon footprint. FPCL’s goal is to further reduce emissions by 220 tones of carbon emissions by and reach carbon neutral status by 2027. An ‘energy tracker’ was installed to monitor progress.

As a certified company in International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), FPCL has ensured and maintained its world class level by continuously improving its performance, providing better quality services, reducing risk and increasing innovation and revenue. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, FPCL still managed to achieve its certification of Integrated Management System (IMS) which conforms to ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System); ISO 14001: 2015 (Environmental Management System) and ISO 45001: 2018 (Occupational Health and Safety) standards. Maintaining compliance ensures FPCL remains on an international level for Systems Certification.

Investment in Ports today will ensure that we have efficient and modernised Ports tomorrow, for our future generations. It will also mean that we secure Fiji’s place as a dynamic, internationally competitive economy, serving as the trade and investment hub of the Pacific.

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