18 Jun 2013

Bougainville government to finance inter island ferry

5:15 pm on 18 June 2013

The autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville will soon have its own shipping service, courtesy of a new joint venture will a Port Moresby based businessman.

The president John Momis says last year's ferry disaster left many in the province without affordable transport, so the government had to step in.

He told Don Wiseman a purpose-built vessel is being constructed in China and should go into service early next year.

JOHN MOMIS: As a result of the Rabaul Queen disaster in which a number of our young people, students, died, we are looking for an appropriate form of transportation for our students and for other people, as well. Right now we don't have any except the airlines, Air New Guinea, which is very, very expensive. So we've decided to go into a joint venture with a businessman from Port Moresby and we are purchasing a boat which is being constructed in China. It should be ready by early next year.

DON WISEMAN: How big a boat, Mr Momis?

JM: I'm told it can take 370 passengers. It will be brand new and made in accordance with the new quite stringent regulations of the government.

DW: I guess one of the major issues with the Rabaul Queen, of course, is that it was not really able to sail in those sorts of seas. So this will be a more robust boat.

JM: That's right. It will be a much more robust boat. And the other thing is the ship, the crew, will be required to adhere to quite stringent requirements and regulations, which should assist the crew and the passengers in case of an accident, to save our people.

DW: Bougainville has got very little or no money, so how are you paying for it?

JM: We have put aside some money which will be met kina for kina by our partner. The boat will cost around about 14 million kina, less than 14 million kina, coming out of our own budget.