Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Rabaul Queen disaster unveils deep problems with passenger shipping in PNG

Rabaul Queen disaster unveils deep problems with passenger shipping in PNG

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Joe Brass

Sea travelers in PNG for too long have been subjected to high passenger fares, over-crowding, and unhygienic living conditions on board ships. Compounded with these problems has been the lack of safety and rescue equipment on board these fleets. Protocols for routine safety and rescue drills for both passengers and crew are not taken seriously nowadays. Testimonies shared by those who have been travelling onboard ferries owned by Rabaul Shipping clearly point to the above appalling conditions.

The performance of NMSA, the statutory body responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance within the local shipping industry with regards to our maritime and safety regulations has now been brought into question in light of the recent MV Rabaul Queen Ferry disaster.

With a brother who is the Chairman of the NMSA board, Peter Sharp the owner of Rabaul Shipping has had an iron grip on the Momase-New Guinea Islands route for some time now. This raises serious questions on the independence of the NMSA board in performing its mandated duties.

One would recall, a few years back when MV Milne Bay, a world class passenger ship brought in by the Western Highlands ILG business arm Wamp Nga Group of Companies to service the domestic shipping route was subjected to much scrutiny and criticism from Peter Sharp, NMSA including some political friends of the Sharp family business which eventually saw MV Milne Bay leaving the shores of PNG.

This was not the first time such bullying tactics were employed by people with vested interest to get rid of potential competitors like the MV Milne Bay through cheap political influence, court orders and media outbursts that often lacked credibility.

In order to prevent such tragedies from recurring in future, the current government must undertake the following:

  • Replace the entire NMSA board due to conflict of interest regarding Rabaul shipping company.
  • Indefinite grounding of the Rabaul Shipping fleet until a thorough investigation is conducted on the ferry disaster.
  • Commissioning of an independent audit team to investigate the management procedures, protocols and equipment relating to safety and emergency standards right across all passenger shipping companies in PNG.

Like the airline industry, we also need to open up the sea transport industry to competition so that competitive fares with world class service and safety standards are offered to our people. We deserve better services from genuine local or expat business people who have a sense of moral responsibility and respect towards the people of this country.

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  1. May 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

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