Family still upset with Sharp for ‘avoiding us’
THE father of a crewman who died in the mv Rabaul Queen disaster is baffled by ferry owner Peter Sharp’s silence, reports The National.
Rev Wala Arua, chairman of the group representing families of the missing Rabaul Queen passengers and crew, lost his son Arua Baru who was the ill-fated vessel’s chief engineer.
Arua said Sharp appeared to have boycotted the local media and only talked to the overseas media.
Sharp spoke to Radio New Zealand last week, not to spell out how he would assist the still-grieving families, but to defend the suitability of the mv Rabaul Queen as a long-haul inter-island ferry.
Arua, in an email to The National, thanked the local media for the coverage of the worst maritime disaster in PNG history, and for shedding light on the plight of families of the victims.
He said people affected by the disaster had also lost faith in the National Maritime Safety Authority which had so far failed to shed light on the sinking of the ferry.
“I read the statement by Peter Sharp.
“I don’t think he understands the pain he has caused to Papua New Guineans.
“What is he doing about those crew members who lost their lives?” he said.
“I don’t care how many times Sharp’s boats travelled the route.
“From day one, Peter Sharp and Rabaul Shipping have avoided us. Up to now, even the office of workers’ compensation have not yet received any correspondence from them.
“Their deafening silence and evasion of my son’s family is an indication of the don’t-care attitude of Peter Sharp and his company.”
The retired United church reverend said despite Sharp being a PNG citizen, he did not understand the Melanesian spirit.
“Our family has been forced to pay their own way from Port Moresby to Lae to seek answers about our missing son.
“Even in Lae, Rabaul Shipping office was not open to us, nor was their legal adviser, Solwai Lawyers, able to honour their promise to meet us along with the surviving crew members.
“It appeared the whole world hid from us when we needed information regarding our son, who was an employee of Rabaul Shipping,” he said.
He said it had been a difficult time dealing with his grandchildren and the widow of his missing son.
“At the laying of flowers out at sea off Bongara Point, I had to do the most difficult thing in the world by explaining to my grandson, Oala B Arua Jr, that his beloved engineer-father was buried deep under the ocean beneath us because his boat went down in rough seas,” he said.
“I had to tearfully explain that when we return home, he must not wait for his father because he was not coming back and that we had come to throw flowers because we all loved him, and to acknowledge that his father went to Jesus doing what he knew best and loved doing,” Rev Arua said.
More than 220 people are missing, presumed dead and 237 were rescued when the Rabaul Queen sank off Finschhafen on Feb 2. Only four bodies had been recovered.