A thundery welcome for an Are’Are warrior
DRENCHING rain and claps of thunder welcomed West Are’Are’s passenger boat, the MV Tahimareho when it sailed into Point Cruz on Saturday afternoon.
It was the ship’s first commercial trip to and from Auki on Malaita since its tragic accident on 3rd April this year. Some 27 passengers were swept overboard in rough seas between Guadalcanal and Malaita in the Easter fateful night. Only some of the bodies were recovered.
A Board of Marine Inquiry completed its investigation into the accident on the 3rd of May – a month after the sea tragedy. But it was not until early October – six months thereafter that the official report was finally given to the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Maelanga.
Its arrival at the Point Cruz wharf in drenching rain and thunder yesterday was not without accident either.
The vessel smashed a concrete block as it came to berth on one of the domestic jetties. No one was injured, although those waiting on shore for the ship’s arrival were shaken.
It is unclear how many passengers were on the return trip from Auki yesterday.
Many people are wondering why the MV Tahimareho was allowed to resume commercial services, given its case is pending before the High Court.
As well, the matter of the people who lost their lives is yet to be sorted out.
The ill-fated journey nine months ago was allegedly a charter organised by the MP for West Are’Are, John Maneniaru as part of the COVID-19 contingency plans, which saw many people evacuated back to their home villages.
Chairman of the West Are’are Constituency (WAC) Community Company, William Parairato, was quoted as saying the vessel undertook its first trip to Auki on Friday. It is not clear how many passengers went on the vessel.
It was recommissioned there today (Saturday), effectively putting it back into active service, Dr. Parairato said.
“There will be two different recommissioning ceremonies that we plan to conduct, the first one was already done here in Honiara on Tuesday 15th December and the other one was conducted at 3pm in Auki on Friday 18th afternoon,” Dr. Parairato told Solomon Times Online.
It is not clear whether the recommissioning program in Auki has taken place at all. The vessel left Auki on its return trip to Honiara at 8 am yesterday.
Dr. Parairato said the company was still working with the families of those that tragically lost their lives during the ill-fated journey on April 3rd, 2020.
“We are hopeful of a positive outcome,” he said.
The Board of Marine Inquiry into the fatal incident completed its findings on 3rd May 2020.
The official report was subsequently submitted to the Minister of Infrastructure Development in early October 2020. Those familiar with the report said the Board of Marine Inquiry looked specifically at the maritime safety aspects of the tragedy.
By Alfred Sasako