Newly bought ship heading here run aground in Fiji
A TONGAN registered marine vessel heading to the Solomons ran aground in Fiji and remained stuck there since last weekend.
The ship was believed to be the one purchased by Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) Constituency through an agent in Honiara.
Reports from Fiji said the vessel, MV Sitka, ran aground at Kadavu near Kabariki village, after it developed mechanical problems.
It was understood Malaita Outer Islands Constituency was the only group waiting for its newly purchased ship to arrive from Tonga at the end of this month.
MOI’s Constituency Development Officer John Kepoia confirmed to the Solomon Star on Friday that their ship was expected here at the end of this month.
However, Mr Kepoia said they had no further information about the vessel and he could not confirm whether MV Sitka, which was now sitting on a reef in Fiji, was the ship they purchased.
He said local agent Oceanic Marine Ltd was the company responsible for the transaction.
When contacted on Friday, a spokesman for Oceanic Marine said their boss Albert Wong was responsible for the vessel purchased in Tonga.
But the spokesman said Mr Wong was out in Ngela and could not be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director of Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration (SIMSA) Brian Aonima, said his office was not informed about a Tongan-flagged vessel heading here.
“It was Fijian authorities who informed us that MV Sitka, which is heading here, run aground on a reef there,” Mr Aonima said.
He said that it was a requirement that his office must be informed of any overseas ships heading here before its arrival.
“We are mandated to inspect all ships arriving in the country.
“It is a legal requirement that we must be duly informed and given relevant information about the ship to ensure they comply with SIMSA regulations before they arrive here,” Mr Aonima said.
He added Solomon Islands should not be used as a dumping ground for ships that are too old and are no longer seaworthy.
Mr Aonima pointed out that this is what some of the politicians are doing with government funds, purchasing cheap vessels that are no long sea worthy so that they could use portion of the grant they received from the government.
By AATAI JOHN