MV Avaikimaine leaves passengers stranded on Bellona, children unaccompanied onboard, cargoes return to Honiara


MV Avaikimaine, the ship named ‘Love of Rennell and Bellona’, has reportedly snubbed the people of Bellona over the weekend.

And, people of Bellona are calling on the MP for Rennell and Bellona to address the issue, being the second time, and ensure it does not happen again.

Renbel premier Japhet Tuhanuku is calling for calm and urges the MP, ship’s management and people of Renbel to work together.

On Sunday, around 1pm, MV Avaikimaine reportedly sailed away without notice after spending only two hours on Bellona on its return-trip to Honiara from Rennell.

It left more than 30 passengers stranded on the island.

Nearly a dozen people were taken to Honiara against their will because they were reportedly onboard when the ship bailed.

Among these were children whose parents and guardians were left behind on Bellona.

Building materials and other cargoes intended for Bellona were brought back to Honiara.

This is the second time that MV Avaikimaine has ‘mistreated’ the people of Bellona, a concerned person from Bellona requesting anonymity told Island Sun.

In the first instance, which was earlier this year, MV Avaikimaine management claimed it had run short on fuel therefore had to skip Bellona, he said.

This time round, Avaikimaine management blames bad weather plus fuel shortage.

However, an Avaikimaine employee who was onboard wrote on social media that the weather was fine and that there was enough fuel onboard. ‘No excuse’, he said.

MP Tautai did not answer his mobile phone when called for comments yesterday.

The ship’s clerk told Island Sun yesterday that they had left Bellona suddenly because they were fearful of the weather and fuel shortage.

“Not all cargoes were unloaded, cargoes like bags of cement and some passengers were left behind and taken back to Honiara.”

He also confirmed bringing along children whose parents were left behind, saying that they had not been aware of this when they decided to set sail.

He said they were floating at Bellona Island for only two hours and decided to leave for Honiara due to shortage of fuel.

“We left early because we might run short of fuel whilst anchoring,” the clerk said.

Premier Tuhanuku decries the incident, saying that sadly it is not the first time for it to happen.

He calls on the ship’s owner, management and the people of Renbel province to work together to ensure it does not happen again.

“On behalf of the Renbel provincial government I call on the ship owner, the shipping management and people of Rennell and Bellona province to work together to address this matter.

“This is a serious matter and a very sad situation that our very own people are faced with.

“Apart from that, the shipping management and the ship owner is also answerable to the people of Rennell and Bellona province,” he said.

MV Avaikimaine services the Rennell and Bellona province roughly after every three months.

The ship was purchased by government in the name of Rennell and Bellona constituency in late 2016. It has since been managed by family members of MP Tautai.

On paper, MV Avaikimaine is run by the company called Rennell and Bellona Shipping Ltd.

According to Company Haus records, Rennell and Bellona Shipping Ltd was registered on May 2, 2016.

The directors are; Timothy Johnston, Tautai Agikimua Kaituu, Willie Sau Kaituu, Eric Tema, Walter Tangai Tesuatai, Evans Tuhagenga, George Tuhaika, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu, Rex Pugeika, Warren Pungetonu Pugeva, Bari Saukiu, Mathias Taieha.

Recorded contact person is Derek Tenoaika Pongi.

Rennell and Bellona Shipping Ltd is registered as a private company.

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