THE Ministry of Infrastructure Development has awarded a new contract for a shipping service to the Makira Weather Coast.
A two-year contract for the service has been awarded to Marau Shipping Services Limited who will operate MV Kesoko on the route.
Funding is being provided jointly by the Solomon Islands Government and the Asian Development Bank.
Moses Virivolomo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development said that MV Kesoko will operate from Honiara through Marou Bay , ports on the weather coast of Makira onto Santa Ana and return via the same route.
The service will operate twice each month. The first voyage will depart Honiara on Tuesday 11 August 2015.
“This is not a charter system,” said Mr Virivolomo.
“Under this subsidy scheme, the ship operator keeps the income from cargo and passenger fares and the Ministry pays a subsidy to cover the difference between voyage income and the costs to operate the voyage,” he explained.
“Marau Shipping will provide the service under a contract and they must meet contract conditions for safety and insurance.
“MV Kesoko must follow the agreed schedule and must visit the ports laid down by the Ministry.
“The ship cannot only call to those ports which make money for the company.”
Mr Virivolomo said that people need to understand that this is not a free service. Everyone has to pay their passenger fare and the cargo freight.
“Anyone who tries to travel or load cargo without paying will not be permitted to travel or ship cargo.”
But under the contract Marau Shipping can only charge the passenger fares and cargo rates agreed by the Ministry.
The company cannot increase rates without the Ministry’s approval.
Mr Virivolomo said that the purpose of the scheme is to provide a regular shipping service to remote communities that are seldom serviced by ships now.
It will help people get their products like copra, cocoa, marine products and timber to Honiara.
“Drunks and trouble makers will not be allowed on the ship,” said Mr Virivolomo.
“If there is trouble at any of the ports then the Ministry will stop the ship from calling at the trouble-making port.”
Mr Virivolomo asked the public to support the service.