A FORMER Deputy Premier of Malaita province says the Solomon Islands government must be held responsible for the 27 people who lost their lives at sea as they flee from the coronavirus (COVID-19) threats.
Mr. Star Dora made the claim following what he described as orders issued by the government to send people back to their home provinces.
He said over the recent days, people have flooded to their home provinces mostly by ships as directed by the government who also provided chartered vessels.
“Firstly, those people are going home not because of their own choices but due to the call by the government.
“Those people have not gone by their own choices but by force and secondly, the government itself also chartered those boats,” he said.
Dora said in such situation like this, the charterer should be the one held responsible which is the government who provide funding and direct people to go home.
“Before those people went, there was an intensive campaign on COVID-19 by the government which cause fear to many people with no clear conscience in their minds.
“And because of the campaign and government’s free charted boats people are already in fear and are forced to return home,” he said.
He said the government has caused mass movements back home within the past days but failed to control the overloading boats or stopping them to travel just like what they did during the Christmas seasons.
“Most of the boats were seen overloaded with more than 800 people or exceeds what they should carry yet they are allowed to leave the wharves.
“The police and the maritime officers have also failed to do their job by stopping overloaded boats like they do in the past during Christmas holidays,” he added.
He said the captain might also be blamed on this but can’t do much when orders have been placed on them by the charterers.
Mr Dora then urges the government to pay for the lives of those 27 people.
“They must be held responsible and they must pay for the lives of the 27 innocent lives,” he added.
By IAN M.KAKUI