7 Feb 2007

Debts trouble American Samoa ferry service

4:35 pm on 7 February 2007

The Attorney General's Office in American Samoa has terminated the lease agreement between government and the American Samoa Inter-Island Shipping Corporation regarding the MV Manu'atele III because of non-compliance.

The cargo/passenger vessel was leased to Inter-Island shipping in 2001 to provide a service to the Manu'a Island Group and Swains Island.

However, the Assistant Attorney General Valerie A. McGuire informed company officials last month that the lease agreement was being terminated because the company was more than 30,000 US dollars behind on its lease payments.

Sources say the government owes the company about 45,000 US dollars in non-payment of shipment services and the Port Administration has refused to off-set this amount against the outstanding lease payments.

The Assistant Attorney General says the company also lacks the necessary insurance requirements, lacks a proper scheduled service, has no Coast Guard Certification and fails to carry out proper maintenance and repair.

Company attorney Robert Maez declined to comment citing that the company is having ongoing talks with the Attorney General's Office.

Without the MV Manu'atele in service, Manu'a and Swains are being served by another government owned vessel, the MV Sili, operated by the Department of Port Administration.