The National- Monday, January 24, 2011
By VERONICA FRANCIS
PNG Customs Services commissioner, Gary Juffa told the news conference last Thursday that he was disappointed that an anonymous person come out to put unsubstantiated news on the Customs unlawful actions against the vessel UBT Fjord.
It was understood that the vessel was in anchorage at the Simpson Harbour, under state control, monitored by Customs and police when it turned off all its lights at midnight early this month and quietly cruised out of PNG.
Juffa said this issue was of absolute national significance and sovereignty.
“Therefore, it is highly unprofessional and disgraceful for someone to use a ghostly approach when going to the media.”
He was responding to the news article published on Jan 14 in the Post-Courier, “The Motor Tanker ‘UBT Fjord’ and its Departure from Rabaul”.
Juffa said that the statement made in the newspaper indicated that the vessel left Rabaul after seven months at anchor because of prolonged delays and unlawful demands from PNG Customs which was not true.
He added that Customs processes under the Customs laws which involved court processes might be lengthy as was with the current case of the vessel.
“There were no unlawful demands by PNG Customs except its complete determination to pursue it through the court processes consistent with the Customs Laws to be resolved,” Juffa said.
He said because of PNG Customs perseverance to have the matter resolved through court, there had been numerous requests by the owners of the vessel through their lawyers to have the matter settled outside of court, however, it never eventuated.
Juffa said customs never allowed the tanker to load the cargo at Loloho and never gave clearance to depart for Singapore, adding the clearance was sought and obtained under force by armed men therefore it was ineffective.