2 Mar 2012

Compensation offer in bid to end Bougainville ship detention over ferry disaster

2:48 pm on 2 March 2012

Bougainvilleans who have stopped three ships from leaving the autonomous Papua New Guinea province since the sinking of the Rabaul Queen four weeks ago are expected to leave the ships today.

Dozens of Bougainvilleans lost their lives in the disaster and grieving relatives wanting compensation have occupied the vessels, which belong to the owners of the Rabaul Queen.

The Buka police commander, Cletus Tsien, says the victims will leave the vessels but will be replaced by the port's security, who will continue to stop the vessels leaving.

He says armed former militants, who have also been on the ships, are also demanding compensation for ensuring the vessels were not destroyed.

Commander Tsien says there are reasons police have not taken action.

"These people are armed and the whole of Bougainville is behind what they are doing. The ships have not been damaged. They are just looking after the ships. And Peter Sharp [principal of the Rabaul Shipping Company] has come up with an offer. They were claiming 350 thousand [kina] and he has come up with 100 thousand."