The National, Monday 13th Febuary 2012
By ELLEN TIAMU
TRYING to get information out of Rabaul Shipping, who operated the ill-fated mv Rabaul Queen has been like hitting into a brick wall, the father of the ferry’s chief engineer who is still missing, said.
Arua Baru, 32, from Porebada in Central, joined the mv Rabaul Queen’s crew in November last year on a short-term contract that would have ended at the end of this month.
Baru had been employed for eight years before that on foreign-going tankers owned by United States oil giant Chevron.
Fighting back tears, his father, Rev Oala Baru Arua said stories from survivors and search and rescue officers of the incident broke his heart.
Arua flew in from Port Moresby to look for his son after attempts to get word from his employer, Rabaul Shipping and owner, Peter Sharp, produced no results.
The clergyman said the company did not call to say the ship had gone down but the family had found out through his eldest son in Alotau who heard the news on the radio.
Desperate for answers, the family tried calling the shipping company for word on his son but “hit against a brick wall”.
Arua flew to Lae last Monday as all calls to Sharp and the company failed.
He had hoped to find better answers in Lae but so far he had found little help.
Last Friday he begged the lawyer representing Rabaul Shipping to organise a meeting with his son’s fellow crew members and captain.
The lawyer promised to get back to him but he found out from a Morobe Provincial Disaster Centre official that the lawyer had left Lae.
“I started to get suspicious at that point especially if the captain or surviving crew members could not talk to relatives about a crew member who was missing,” Arua said.
He said he had written a letter asking if the provincial disaster office could fly one of his sons, a lawyer, across from Port Moresby, to assist.
“I am asking the government to look into this matter even if it is to the point of making Peter Sharp bankrupt.
“He had been using our people and crew to become rich,” he said.
“I want his bank account frozen until investigations were complete and all his vessels grounded,” the distraught father said.
Arua said Rabaul Shipping must compensate all victims, passengers and seafarers.
He said if the search ended and no more bodies were retrieved, the ship should be salvaged as his son could be one of those trapped inside.
“I am asking the second engineer or a crew member to come forward and give at least some information so in a way I could go back home with some peace,” he said.
A memorial service will be held for survivors and to remember those still missing at St Paul’s Lutheran church in Lae on Saturday.