Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Father angered by Rabaul Queen inquiry delay

Father angered by Rabaul Queen inquiry delay

By Ellen Tiamu

A grieving father says it is “outrageous” that the government has yet to release the money required for a commission of inquiry to begin investigations into last month’s sinking of the passenger ferry mv Rabaul Queen.

The commission had not begun its work more than five weeks since the ferry sank because of a lack of government funding.

Rev Oala Baru Arua’s son was the chief engineer of the ill-fated ship when it capsized and sank off Finschhafen waters in Morobe on Feb 2. Arua Baru was among the 229 people in a final missing persons’ list published by the Morobe Disaster Centre last Tuesday.

Arua, who had become the spokesman for survivors and relatives of missing persons, said in Lae yesterday the commission must go ahead, particularly since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had given an undertaking during a visit to Lae following the tragedy that an inquiry would be conducted.

“The government has been giving out money and I am sure they can find money somewhere for an inquest to go ahead,” Arua said.

Members of the commission were appointed three weeks ago and a budget of K12.6 million was estimated to fund the inquiry.

Tommy Yep, chairman of the Legal Action Committee – a group set up in Lae after the ferry disaster – had also urged the prime minister to come good on his commitment to survivors and those missing and their relatives.

Yep said there were too many lives that were lost in the biggest shipping disaster to hit the country. It was only proper that a commission of inquiry be established so that many unfulfilled questions were answered.

“The government is talking in monetary terms but how does one value the life of a person?”

He said the commission must proceed so that its findings could become the basis for corrective action and measures for the government to adopt.

A total of 237 people survived the sinking. Only four bodies were recovered – three adult females and a four-year-old boy.

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