Central Islands province caught up in Vietnamese blue boat dilemma
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
TWO weeks overdue to the day, the Vietnamese blue boats which had been paid $400,000 by government to be destroyed in four weeks are still anchored miles away from proposed site of destruction.
Two are anchored at the RSIPF maritime base at Pt Cruz while the other is causing much alarm in Ngella, Central Islands province (CIP).
And, the CIP government is demanding the boat’s removal from its shores.
Reports from CIP’s agriculture division in Tulagi, which has been closely monitoring one of the blue boats anchored in its Hakama station port, says the boat had ran into an engine problem on its way to Auki to be destroyed, and has been anchoring there since.
There is growing concerns among the CIP government and the CIP agriculture division that the boat is on the verge of sinking, which would bring catastrophic effects to the surrounding environment there.
Speaking to Island Sun yesterday, CIP Premier Patrick Vasuni says they are insisting that the contractor takes the blue boat to where it is destined to be destroyed – not in Ngella.
“There should be anchorage fee now paid under the business license of the province for staying this long outside of Hakama Station at Mboli passage. We call on to not use CIP’s Zone as a dumping hive,” said the Premier.
“Why the contractor is still anchoring the blue boat in Ngella is what the province wants to know.”
Premier Vasuni says they are trying to get into contact with the contractor, whom he adds is elusive to them.
“Ngella seems to be a place for many ships to be dumped in. Currently, Bikoi II is also anchored near the undersea water supply pipeline for Tulaghi on which we are calling to its owner to remove it or it might end up causing trouble for the province,” said the Premier.
Tulaghi police after checking the anchored boat recently, confirmed that it is one of the controversial Vietnamese blue boats which have made headlines for poaching in Solomon waters earlier this year.
Permanent Secretary (PS) for MFMR Dr Christian Ramofafia recently said Iona Firi of Langalanga lagoon had won the bid to destroy the boats at a $400,000-cost to the government.
The deal included a four-week timeframe within which the boats were to be destroyed.
It is clear that Iona Firi has failed to meet its deadline, and that the government has found itself being duped of $400,000.
The question now is, what now? What will become of the blue boats? What are the penalties for failing the government four-week timeframe?