The Port Vila Cruise Association has been ordered by the Supreme Court of Vanuatu not to control the operation of public land transport at the main wharf of Port Vila.
Judge Dudley Aru heard an urgent application between the Public Land Transport Authority – First Claimant and the Shefa/Port Vila Public Land Transport – Second Claimant represented by Les Napuati and the Defendant – Port Vila Cruse Association on Friday.
After considering the papers filed, Judge Aru ordered that: (1) The defendant, its agents, friends and its land transport operators are restrained from managing and controlling operations of the public land transport at the main wharf; (2) The defendant, its agents, friends and its land transport operators are restrained from managing and controlling the operations of the public land transport at the main wharf without the lawful authorization of the Claimants; (3) Liberty to the Defendants to apply upon 3 days’ notice; and (4) A further conference is listed for 12 March 2018 at 8.30 am.
The issue of providing public land transport services by buses and taxis at the main wharf on cruise ship days has been a contentious issue for government and tourism authorities for a number of years now.
It resulted in the government helping with the formation of the Port Vila Cruise Association as one answer.
Over the past year the association has sought to control the transportation of tourists arriving at the main wharf from cruise vessels allowing only its members to provide the service.
This enraged other public transport drivers who argue that they have the legal right to have access to the main wharf on cruse ship days to serve arriving cruise passengers as much as the association members.
The issue surfaced last month when the Minister for Tourism, Joe Natuman, banned the President of Shefa/Port Vila Public Land Transport, Donald Massing, from interrupting the work of the Port Vila Cruise Transport Association on cruise ships days, and his members threatened to seek legal remedy for what they considered an ‘illegal’ operation.