Anxiety grows for disaster stricken populace of Sikaiana island, no signs of promised relief ship


It has been more than two months since huge waves washed over Sikaiana island, damaging houses and gardens.

Since then, there has been no relief ship sent by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), despite a promise made by the NDMO director to the Sikaiana Honiara-based community that the NDMO would send one.

The NDMO has been silent since, with senior officials passing the buck around when asked to give answers to the concerned public.

The Director of NDMO, Jonathan Tafiariki, has not responded to enquiries sent him by this paper.

The planned trip Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operation for the Malaita Outer Islands of Sikaiana and Ontong Java (MOI) is yet to set sail.

Two weeks ago NDMO promised to deploy a HADR team there.

NDMO said the trip preparation was underway pending payment of food relief and the logistics to deliver the supplies.

It said MOI relief is being prioritized over other pending relief including that for Guadalcanal, Makira, Central and Isabel Provinces. Noting MOI is a remote and hard to reach location, the access to goods and services, and transportation to Honiara is very challenging.

NDMO made the assurance that it is doing all it can to deliver on the humanitarian imperatives pending availability of resources.

However, the paper understands that it is now two weeks and the trip ship is yet to set sail.

Several attempts since last week the paper made to get a response and update from NDMO on the matter proved unsuccessful.

Tera Tavao, a Sikaiana community member in Honiara, told Island Sun yesterday that they made several attempts to talk to NDMO officials including the director but nothing was forthcoming.

“We try to talk to them but they are not answering us. At the moment we are waiting for a charted boat by a private businessman on 15th March 2024.

“It seems that the ship NDMO promised us is no longer available. They (NDMO) refused to answer us on this regard.

“We called several times to the responsible officers but the respond we got is they always relayed our calls to the NDMO Director. When we call the director, he is not answering our calls.

“At the moment we are left in the dark, there is no feedback and confirmation we received from NDMO So, we just no longer trust them to send a boat to our island of Sikaiana.” He said.

Instead, Mr. Tavao said they will be using proceeds from their fundraising efforts and donations to buy food supplies to be sent over on the charted ship next week.

The NDMO was pressured to assess reports of widespread destruction on Sikaiana atoll caused by huge waves that hit the Island almost eight weeks ago.

Their issue had sprung to light after a distress call for help was initially intercepted by Vanikoro radio in Temotu Province.

The report was then relayed to women in Lata before it was shared with individuals in Honiara.

Social media platform YUMI TOKTOK FORUM has forwarded the message to NDMO urging them to dispatch a boat or helicopter to verify the validity of the report to ensure safety and wellbeing of the Islanders.

Currently, two-way communication with the atoll has been cut off after both clinic radio and another privately operated radio was malfunctioned.

The distress call was believed to be the last communication before the breakdown in communication.


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