Relative calls for thorough and transparent investigation into sea tragedy

27 lives were lost on the MV Taimareho last year when the ship sailed through rough weather.
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By Alfred Sasako

AS authorities pored through details of what went wrong in the sea tragedy involving the West Are’Are Constituency ship, MV Taimareho last weekend, a relative of one of the 27 people who perished in the accident has called for “a thorough and transparent investigation”.

“What the authorities must realise is that the 27 people who lost their lives have relatives right across the island of Malaita. They were not just from West Are’Are. So as relatives, we want answers,” Charles Karamauri told Island Sun yesterday.

“The answers we are seeking can only come from a thorough, transparent and timely investigation. We do not want the investigation to end up being a whitewash.

“We want to know for example who authorised the ship to leave, knowing that a cyclone warning was in force when the MV Taimareho left at mid night on Thursday last weekend. There is also the question of alleged overloading,” he said.

“These are the details that families of the 27 people who perished in the tragedy are seeking,” Mr. Karamauri said.

MV Taimareho was on a Constituency charter when it was hit by giant waves in the crossing between Guadalcanal and Malaita Province at midnight on Thursday last week. Six bodies have since been recovered from the 27 people, mostly high school students, who allegedly fell overboard.

The Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Authority (SIMSA) confirmed last week that two parallel investigations were underway – one by the maritime authority and the other by police to establish criminal negligence or otherwise.

However, since the investigations were launched, the SIMSA Board has imposed a news blackout until reports into the tragedy were completed.

Mr Karamauri said it is important the investigation is thorough, transparent and timely.

“I am saying this because we fear that political interference could undermine the independence of the investigation and the confidence the public has in the two institutions that are carrying out the investigation.

“It has happened before and there is no guarantee it would not happen again. And that is what we do not want to see happen in this case because of the number of lives lost in the incident,” he said.