3 Apr 2020

Vanuatu captain detained for breaking Covid-19 shipping rules

4:08 pm on 3 April 2020

A Vanuatu ferry captain has been detained in Tafea province for breaking State of Emergency orders.

MV Touaraken at Lenakel wharf being inspected by Tafea police.

MV Touaraken at Lenakel wharf being inspected by Tafea police. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) authorised the MV Touaraken to sail from Port Vila to the island of Tanna with supplies of fuel and cargo.

But when the ferry docked at Tanna's Lenakel wharf, authorities found four passengers on board.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported Tafea police detained the captain for 24 hours before he was allowed to sail back to Port Vila.

The four passengers have been isolated at Lenakel Hospital for 14 days.

Earlier this week, caretaker NDMO minister Bruno Leingkone suspended all inter-island passenger shipping services during the State of Emergency.

"The exception will be given to the transportation of cargo supplies, on a case by case basis as authorized by NDMO," Mr Leingkone stated.

All inter-island cargo ships need to have NDMO approved protocols for handling cargo in compliance with good hygiene practices and social distancing.

Chair of the Tafea Emergency Operation Centre Joe Iautim said ships that go to Tafea ports must be clean and have hand-washing facilities.