By EDDIE OSIFELO
MV Southern Coast 1 is ready to serve the people of Guadalcanal following its blessing and hand over at the Point Cruz wharf on Thursday.
Member of Parliament for South Guadalcanal, Rollen Seleso purchased the $2.6 million vessel under the National Transport Fund from the Anglican Church of Melanesia after winning the bid.
The original value of the vessel was $3.1 million but both parties agreed to settle on the current value following some good negotiations.
The vessel was formally named Southern Cross, which the church used to move around the country to share the gospel to the people.
Speaking at the handing over and blessing of the vessel in front of guests and constituents, Seleso said South Guadalcanal constituency has come a long way in finally achieving the acquisition of its very first ever shipping vessel.
He said this, in itself speaks volume on the gratitude and joy that they now have.
“South Guadalcanal is just on the other side of the island. It is so near….yet so far away…so remote.
“Some say that we are a people living on the edge…..and this is all true, “he said.
Seleso, who is also the Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening said frequent and reliable transportation has been a challenge for their people for as long as they have lived.
“Modern day transportation is expensive and dangerous for our people rendering us out of reach of the economic opportunities presented by our capital city, Honiara.
“It is somewhat funny that some of our kids only come to know Honiara because of education or medical reasons,” he added.
Seleso, a first time MP said the achievement that they witnessed was a culmination of vision, understanding, cooperation, hard work, dedication and sheer determination of a lot of key players including government, ministries, groups and individuals.
However, Seleso said owning and operating a ship is no easy task.
“It is even more challenging when such an asset is owned by the people.
“I am happy to say that this vessel is a blessing for my constituency and people, but now the onus and challenge is on us to respect and look after it,” he said.
“I urge our people of South Guadalcanal and all travellers to take ownership and responsibility over this ship.
“The success or failure of this ship depends on us,” he added.
Contrary to common belief, South Guadalcanal constituency, though remote and considered an uneconomical route is full of potentials in terms of contributing to the national economy.
“It was because of lack of reliable transportation that our people have been unable to fully participate for such a long time.
“People have left their cocoa and coconut plantations and opted for other easier means of income as we face problems in getting our goods to Honiara,” he added.
“In fact, there was a time in the past when the constituency was the highest producer of cocoa in the whole of Solomon Islands.
“We also have the sweetest taros which will now be able to reach Honiara soon,” he added.
A business arm of the Constituency, the South Guadalcanal Corporate Service Company Ltd (SGCSCL) will manage and run the vessel.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development, Manasseh Maelanga expressed his happiness and pride the see the ship.
Maelanga said he was happy to see funds given were implemented which resulted in South Guadalcanal purchasing a ship.
He said Government has also supported other constituencies in terms of transportation as part of its policy.
Guadalcanal Premier Francis Sade congratulated South Guadalcanal constituency, DCGA and the people who made this initiative come true.
Other guests who witnessed the handing over and blessing of the vessel were Minister for Planning Rex Ramofafia, MP for North Malaita Senly Filuala, Minister of Aviation and Communication, Peter Shanel, Guadalcanal Premier, Francis Sade and Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal, Benedict Loe.