Poor quality marine plywood is a safety risk

07/09/2010 17:03

The Consumer Council of Fiji wants standards for marine plywood for the safety of fisherman and seafarers. The call for investigation on locally manufactured marine plywood comes after Council received complaints from a boat builder on the low quality marine plywood sold to them.

Frustrated boat builder sought help from the Council after they were sold marine plywood with a number of tiny holes on several occasions by local hardware companies. The Council staff as part of their investigation visited the site and saw tiny holes on the marine plywood that was intended to be used to repair the boat. This boat builder was concerned about the safety of other fellow boat builders and fishermen who maybe purchasing inferior quality product to repair their boats and risking their lives while going out to sea in boats not seaworthy.  

It is ironical that the local manufacturers are complying with Australian standard AS2272 to export marine plywood to Australia while neglecting local consumers by dumping low quality marine plywood because Fiji does not have standards.  Standards detail practically every aspect of the composition and performance of marine plywood and are necessary for seaworthy boat.

Marine plywood is made with waterproof adhesive so that it can be used under water.  It is normally laminated with a ‘phenol-formaldehyde resin’ which, sets permanently under heat and pressure. The bond is permanent and will not deteriorate under wet conditions, heat or cold. There should be no holes in these plywoods, though these may be the case on lower grades of marine plywoods. 

Sale of low or poor quality marine plywood is a breach of consumer’s right to safety. Not only this, but it is also a financial loss for consumers who have to spend extra for repairs or re-purchase these plywoods.  Some complainants lodging complaints to the Council had to buy marine plywoods for their fishing boat just within five years of the purchase and usage despite painting and varnishing it regularly.

The Council is urging manufacturers and retailers to demonstrate corporate responsibility and understand the consequences of low grade marine plywood.  This is imperative as fishing is a major source of income for many people in the country. Sea transportation is also one of the major means of travelling from one island to another.  Many villagers use punts or canoes daily just to cross rivers to reach the mainland.  The lives of these people cannot be risked by some unscrupulous traders wanting to make quick and easy money.