A major stepping-stone in terms of Samoa’s shipping services was celebrated yesterday, with the arrival of Matson South Pacific (S.P.X.) service vessel.
The M.V. Islander Voy 001 arrived at 6am from Honolulu and a service to bless the vessel and crew was led by Father Falaniko Matulino on the wharf.So what does this vessel have in store for Samoa?
“Last month we launched the Matson South Pacific SPX service and this is the first time there is a direct shipment or service from the U.S. West coast to Honolulu and then to Apia,” Molida Group Director, Masuisui JR Pereira told the Weekend Observer.
“After Apia, the ship will go to Pago American Samoa, Nukualofa Tonga, Fiji then back to Honolulu.”
The vessel will open up a more accessible and necessary trade-link between Honolulu and the Pacific.
“I think the significance of this vessel is this is the first time there is a direct service from Honolulu to Apia,” Mr. Pereira said.
“At the moment with the competition, they have vessels which come from the U.S. to other parts of the region for example Tahiti and Tonga.
“I think the last port they come to is Apia before returning to the U.S. but with Matson South Pacific Service this is the first time we have a service directly from Honolulu to Apia.”
According to Mr. Pereira, the significance of this new service is that it opens new opportunities for Samoa in terms of shipping.
“It takes eight days to get from Honolulu to Apia,” he said.
“So with the current shipment or trade, most of our people are not aware of how expensive it is. What we’re doing here is vital because of Matson’s commitment to Samoa and American Samoa.
“Another significant fact is that the government is pushing Taro export not only to New Zealand and Australia but in particular the mainland U.S.A and Honolulu because the margins in terms of the prices are much better than what we are currently getting from New Zealand and Australia.
“So the implementation of this service will open up opportunities for Samoa’s exports through the accessibility to more trade links to assist Samoa for the U.S. markets but also the other Pacific Islands.
“After today’s maiden voyage the vessel will be around every 28 days; apart from that we still have two vessels from New Zealand and Fiji which comes into Samoa and the region every 14 days.
“We thank the community and the Government for their support and in particular the trading businesses in Samoa and of course the suppliers who are exporting to Samoa.”
But for Matson, entering the trade competition is somewhat a challenge and a form of motivation at the same time.
“The key challenge is really the competition,” Mr. Pereira said.
“But it is also good for the people because the prices of the freights are coming down and if you look at the freights, our prices are lower than the competition.
“This is good for our community as a whole because when the freight prices drop then the costs of the products in the market should also drop.
“I mean that’s the ideal scenario but from Matson’s perspective the competition is still the same as any other shipping line; but we welcome competition and it improves the services as well as the freight rates; it’s good for our people. “The creation of this service opens doors for a lot of our people, especially our people in Honolulu because there are many Samoans there; it also serves the Samoan community in Tonga and Fiji.”
Mr. Pereira assures that the service that Matson provides is for the people and his appreciation goes to everyone who helped make the maiden voyage possible.
“Matson has been here for almost five years now and since our inception four years ago we have now added this service,” he said.
“This gives evidence to Matson’s commitment to Samoa in building the trade; not only the trade links but in particular the exports for Samoa.
“I want to thank our people because at the end of the day they are the ones we’re trying to serve but they are also the ones who keeps business going; it’s not only good for business but also the government in terms of taxes.”