High Court settles dispute over Ellington Wharf

The Ellington Wharf in Rakiraki. Picture: ANISH CHAND/FT FILE

The High Court has ruled the Fiji Roads Authority has power and jurisdiction over Ellington wharf in Rakiraki and has authority to control shipping operations using the wharf.

Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Pte Ltd had gone to court, claiming the wharf was its property since 1984 after it built a ramp at the wharf causeway.

FRA told the court the wharf was located on land that used to be owned by the Fiji Sugar Corporation.

“Since FSC surrendered its lease in 1985, the infrastructure at Ellington has been used by members of the public to travel from Ellington,” said Justice A.L.B. Brito-Mutunayagam.

“Other shipping operators also use the facility to berth their vessels and for passengers to disembark.

“The custodian of the land and infrastructure is the director of lands.

“In October 2019, the plaintiff (Patterson Brothers Shipping) blocked access to the jetty head to prevent the vessels of Goundar Shipping Ltd from berthing and offloading its passengers.”

The defendant (FRA), the Maritime Safety Authority and Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission used their enforcement powers and informed Patterson its actions were illegal.

“The infrastructure built does not belong to the plaintiff.

“It is in the public’s interest that the infrastructure at Ellington continues to be vested in the defendant,” the judge said.

“The wharf has been used as a passage for the public, as evident from the letters sent by the defendant (FRA) and the Maritime Safety Authority to the plaintiff on October 15, 2019, on it obstructing access to the ramp.

“In my judgment, the plaintiff’s ramp is a land and civil infrastructure within the definition of ‘road’ or ‘roads. The defendant (FRA) has power and jurisdiction over Ellington wharf and authority to control shipping operations out of the wharf, as it did in 2019.”

More Stories