21 Jul 2010

Kiribati official says no simple solution to safety issues posed by ferry disaster

1:21 pm on 21 July 2010

A spokesperson for the Kiribati government says there's no simple solution to the safety issues raised in a report into last July's ferry capsizing which claimed 35 lives.

A report by New Zealand's Transport Accident and Investigation Commission found the Uean Te Raoi II was overloaded and lacked adequate safety equipment when it capsized, and had been modified so it was unseaworthy in open waters.

Cabinet Secretary, Taam Biribo, says most boats in Kiribati are only meant for coastal travel, and have tended to be overloaded and to operate without sufficient lifesaving equipment.

He says the authorities are working to monitor the boats, and to work with operators to ensure they're more responsible.

"It's everyone's wish that there is no repeat of this. I guess there is no simple solution to this. Unless we can get people who would finance better boats for travel between the islands. But the local operators just don't have the finances to be able to finance more stable, seaworthy craft."

Taam Biribo says government is seriously concerned about the issue and is doing all it can to address it.