1 Jun 2010

Reports in Tonga say Ministry of Transportation secretary has lost her job

9:57 am on 1 June 2010

There are unconfirmed reports from Tonga that the secretary of the Ministry of Transportation has lost her job amid concerns over air safety.

'Eleni Mone, who had faced criticism during the inquiry into the sinking of the Princess Ashika, is understood to have been forced out of her position after a series of recent mishaps involving aircraft.

The latest, last week, happened when a plane was forced into an emergency landing after its nose wheel failed to lock into place.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says a preliminary report into this incident is critical of safety procedures not being adhered to and a lack of independent surveying of aircraft.

"The Ministry of Transportation is the one that's responsible for the safety procedures regarding the airplanes and also the shipping service. But there's conflicting reports. Some say, from the Department that her contract was over and others inform us that the Government has refused to extend her contract and she was asked to leave."

Mateni Tapueluelu in Tonga.