Queries over K7m vessel

Momase, Normal

The National, Thursday February 20th, 2014


THE Government has been urged to explain to the people of Huon Gulf what is happening to their K7 million vessel mv Morobe Rainforest. 

The vessel has been caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour and his predecessor, Sasa Zibe. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is also taking an interest in it.

Salamaua local level government vice-president Jason Tabora said: “Our boat, which was bought to serve the people of Huon Gulf, especially Salamaua and Morobe Patrol Post, is lying idle in the waters off Voco Point.

“Could the political heads and administration explain to the people of Huon Gulf what’s happening?”

The vessel was co-funded by the provincial improvement programme and Huon Gulf  district services improvement programme. 

Zibe, a member of O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress, talked about the vessel a lot during the 2012 election campaign where he was unseated by Seymour.

The 29m alloy passenger and cargo ferry has a capacity to carry 120 passengers and 50 tonnes of cargo.

The National Court last November refused to grant a restraining order sought by New Zealand-based Bau Group Inc, which is associated with Zibe, against Seymour and district administrator Robin Bazinuc.

The Bau Group had sought an order to stop Seymour and Bazinuc from receiving mv Morobe Rainforest from New Zealand.

Following the court order, Seymour seized the boat in Port Moresby and directed it to Lae, despite a protest by O’Neill. He accused Seymour of using soldiers to forcefully board the vessel and take it to Lae.

It is now lying idle in waters off Voco Point in Lae. 

“The people are wondering what’s going on and the boat is just lying idle. 

It’s people’s money that has been used to buy this boat,” Tabora said.