by Vanessa Knight – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) has detained the passenger vessel, MV Ijivitari, in Oro Province for failing to produce legal documents on inspection.
The vessel was purchased in 2010 from DSIP funds by the Ijivitari Open Member, and according to the NMSA has remained non-operational since its arrival into the country.
Excessive use of public funds to purchase shipping vessels from foreign countries has become a serious concern for the maritime authority.
Maritime Standards & Compliance Manager, Joseph Pyawan, who flew to Oro Province to inspect and detain MV Ijivitari, said an increasing number of government authorities and entities are engaging second hand shipping vessels from foreign countries, which are unseaworthy, lacking proper documentation or unsuitable for the local environment.
One such example, he says, is MV Ijivitari, a small passenger ship purchased through the open member’s office with DSIP funds, but has reportedly not operated since it arrived into the province five years ago.
District authorities on the ground were unable to provide the ship’s documentation upon request, hence resulting in its detainment.
Pyawan says this is becoming a trend in most maritime provinces, and is a waste of public funds.
Meanwhile, Ijivitari District Works Coordinator, Francis Dira, confirmed that the ship experienced setbacks in management and maintenance, causing its five-year redundancy at Oro Bay.
He told EMTV News in an interview this afternoon that the primary initiative when purchasing the vessel from Japan was a positive one; to service people in the coastal electorates who needed sea transport, especially for cocoa, fish and even school students.
He also noted that the vessel made its first and only voyage in 2011 to Tufi, approved by the then Joint District Budget Priorities Committee.
A private shipping firm was to be engaged to manage shipping operations, but the vessel experienced obstructions in leakages, poor suitability to the province’s sea conditions, theft of safety equipment and compensation demands from locals who claimed to provide security.
Mr Dira says the current Ijivitari District Development Authority recently convened on the matter and have decided to sell the ship with the intention of purchasing another vessel in better condition, but says plans to do so will now be affected following the ship’s detainment from the maritime authorities.