By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI
CUSTOMS has seized two vehicles smuggled on board a constituency landing craft that illegally and secretly sailed into the country last year.
The landing craft, bought by the outgoing Savo-Russells MP Dickson Mua, offloaded the two hilux at a log pond at Tiaro, northwest Guadalcanal, before sailing on to Gela in Central Province.
But villagers who witnessed the illegal off-loading reported the matter to authorities.
A Customs official told the Solomon Star they’ve detained the two vehicles awaiting final decision from their bosses.
“Those who bought the vehicles failed to declare them to Customs,” the officer said.
It was not clear whether Mua was behind this illegal import.
Mua obtained $5.5 million under the controversial government shipping grant during his two terms to purchase the landing craft, which he named “Savo-Russell Hero”.
But he secretly sailed the landing craft into the country without informing the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA), as required by law.
It was believed the landing craft may have cost less than the $5.5 million.
Police last year charged Mua for allegedly converting $200,000 of the shipping grant to purchase other items.
He is still awaiting trial.
The 20-meter long landing craft he purchased was taken straight to the Avi’avi shipyard in Gela for repair.
It has yet to serve its purpose.
Meanwhile, the Customs officer thanked villagers who reported the smuggled vehicles to authorities.
“Had the villagers chose not to report the matter, those people who smuggled them in would walk away with their crime,” the officer said.