By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE 200 people living on the isolated island of Sikaiana in the Malaita Outer Islands are expecting a ship to serve them soon after being denied the service over the last eight months.
This came after the Central Tender Board in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury approved Kii Shipping as a franchise to serve this uneconomical route on a one-year contract yesterday.
Ministry of Infrastructure Development permanent secretary, Stephen Maesiola confirmed this after the CDB meeting yesterday.
Maesiola said he would liaise with his officers to inform Kii shipping on this new contract.
“I don’t know when the ship will travel to Sikaiana.
“But if the ship needs money for fuel, the ministry can help,” he said.
The plight of the Sikaiana people came to limelight after the Member of Provincial Assembly on Malaita province, Ezekiel Teusa told this paper this week.
Teusa said there are no food, medicine, and that the school has closed to allow children to accompany their parents to the smaller islets to forage for food.
More and more people are also getting sick, according to Teusa.
Concerned individuals from Sikaiana in Honiara have rallied together to call on their MP and the national government to send a ship with relief supplies to the isolated atolls.
Spokesperson Tera Tavao, during their meeting on Sunday, said they resolved to exhaust all means of reaching out to their MP Martin Kealoe Mokolo, and the national government to ask for a ship to be sent to Sikaiana.
Mokolo could not be reached for comments, however MOI constituency development officer (CDO) John Selwyn says the constituency cannot help the people on Sikaiana because of lack of funds.
“[MOI] constituency cannot charter a ship because the funds for this year have all been exhausted, expended according to their allocations.
“Sikaiana usually depends on the government franchise system which services uneconomical routes.
“But the contract for MV Airi expired earlier this year, and MID has put up this service for tender but the process is slow and the tender is yet to be made,” he said.
However, with government stepping in, it is good news for the Sikaiana people to access food and other necessities from Honiara to end the starvation.