Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Angry villagers chain Kula Queen to wharf

Angry villagers chain Kula Queen to wharf

Police are to try and talk angry Gomu villagers into releasing passenger ferry mv Kula Queen which they have chained to the Bialla wharf in West New Britain.

It is believed that most of the villagers are relatives of passengers who are missing following the sinking of the mv Rabaul Queen early last month. Both ships belong to Rabaul Shipping

New Guinea Islands divisional commander Supt Anton Billie confirmed that the incident occurred at 6am yesterday as the ferry, with 50 passengers on board, prepared to leave for Lae after stopping overnight at Bialla. The ferry left Rabaul on Tuesday morning with about 50 passengers.

Billie said he had directed Bialla police station commander Thomas Reu to inform the people to let the vessel go. A Rabaul Shipping officer lodged a complaint with Billie regarding the incident yesterday.

Billie said he would lead a section of mobile squad members from Kokopo to Bialla today to talk to the people and make them aware that holding the vessel was illegal and an act of piracy under the criminal code. He is prepared to make arrests if the people did not cooperate.

It is understood the 50 passengers from Rabaul and some from Bialla have now been left stranded. A number have sought refuge at the Bialla police station.

Billie said if people holding the vessel up had concerns with Rabaul Shipping company, they should follow the right procedures to vent their frustrations.

“We sympathise with the people, but there are ways to follow and we cannot keep blaming Rabaul Shipping.”

Since the loss of the Rabaul Queen on Feb 2, the ferry company’s fleet had shrunk with Kimbe Queen undergoing inspection after hitting a reef in Bialla waters last week while Solomon Queen, Kopra and Kopra IV are stranded at the Buka dock in Bougainville.
Relatives of survivors and those missing from the Rabaul Queen tragedy are preventing the ships from sailing. They are demanding K350,000 in compensation from the company.

More than 180 people have been declared missing after the Rabaul Queen sank off Finschhafen on Feb 2 with more than 350 crew and passengers on board.

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