Prestige captain speaks out after MOI trip

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CAPTAIN of Solomon Prestige 2, Billy Mamaloni believes he has not breached any law to travel to Ontong Java on February 16.

This was despite Special Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Jimmie Rodgers and the Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau confirming that the ship was not exempted to travel to Ontong Java on the media talkback show recently.

However, Captain Mamaloni, who obtained a Class 3 (Masters) in Papua New Guinea Maritime College in Madang, said Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA) had authorised the ship to sail after it completed the predeparture check.

He said the two officers of SIMA have shown the paper signed by Director Thierry Nervale to him, authorising the ship to sail.

In terms of the Covid-19 protocol, Captain Mamaloni said he has sought assistance from SIMA office number of times but was turned back at the gate by the security.

However, he was the first to fill the exemption form and the last to depart as well.

As the vessel sailed away and approximately 33 miles or 52.8km from the first port on Ontong Java and 164 miles from Isabel, Captain Mamaloni received an order from the authority asked him to turn back.

“I made a decision not to turn back because it is better to serve the lives of Solomon Islanders than turn back for one paper,” he added.

Polycap Paea of Ministry of Finance and Treasury has chartered the ship to Ontong Java.

Captain Mamaloni said all the cargoes in the ship have not been offloaded since the ship initially departed on 15th January but was turned back at Gela, Central Islands Province upon request of the authority.

He said the full loading still remain and the ship could not accept extra cargoes because it would unseaworthy.

The ship returned to Honiara last Thursday after it offloaded food and medical suppliers to Ontong Java.

Currently, the returning passengers are quarantined at Guadalcanal Beach Resort (GBR) at Henderson.

Captain Mamaloni said he had submitted a report to SIMA on Monday and waiting for any response at the moment.

Police Commissioner, Mangau told the Talk Back show on Sunday that investigation is ongoing on the status of the ship.

It is still not sure if the Government will deal with Solomon Prestige 2 through administratively or through the court.