Southern Coast makes maiden Weather-coast trip

MV Southern Coast 1 sailing in Weather coast region
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MV Southern Coast 1 made its maiden voyage to the Weather coast region of South Guadalcanal on Saturday living constituents both surprised and excited.

This after the vessel was blessed and handed over at the Point Cruz wharf in Honiara on Thursday.

Men, women, girls and children lined up on the beach early Sunday Easter morning to welcome their first ship, after many years of inconsistent shipping services to their region even though they are close to Honiara city.

Viso villagers welcome their new ship

Even villagers who walked to the church to celebrate their Easter service stood still and waved to the ship as it passed by.

It was a dawn of a new era for the mountainous Weather coast region that was tarnished during the ethnic conflict from 2000 to 2003 when ex-militant activities disturbed the people’s normal lives.

One of the old women in the village told Island Sun the constituency ship will reduce the cost of travelling to Honiara in terms of fare and freights on goods.

A boat carrying passengers and cargoes to one of the villages in Weather coast

She said it costs about $400 to travel on a boat to Honiara and $50 for freight on one bag of rice.

However, she said with the ship, it would drastically reduce the cost for them.

Member of Parliament for South Guadalcanal, Rollen Seleso earlier said contrary to common belief, South Guadalcanal constituency, though remote and considered an uneconomical route, is full of potential in terms of contributing to the national economy.

He said it was because of the lack of reliable transportation that our people have been unable to fully participate for such a long time.

“People have left their cocoa and coconut plantations and opted for other easier means of income as we face problems in getting our goods to Honiara,” he added.

Veramoho villagers celebrate the arrival of MV Southern Coast 1

“In fact, there was a time in the past when the constituency was the highest producer of cocoa in the whole of Solomon Islands.

“We also have the sweetest taros which will now be able to reach Honiara soon,” he added.

Seleso said South Guadalcanal constituency has come a long way in finally achieving the acquisition of its very first ever shipping vessel.

He said this, in itself speaks volume on the gratitude and joy that they now have.

“South Guadalcanal is just on the other side of the island. It is so near…. yet so far away…so remote.

“Some say that we are a people living on the edge….and this is all true, “he said.

Seleso, who is also the Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening said frequent and reliable transportation has been a challenge for their people for as long as they have lived.

Member of Parliament for South Guadalcanal, Rollen Seleso singing on MV Southern Coast 1

“Modern day transportation is expensive and dangerous for our people rendering us out of reach of the economic opportunities presented by our capital city, Honiara.

“It is somewhat funny that some of our kids only come to know Honiara because of education or medical reasons,” he added.

However, Seleso said owning and operating a ship is no easy task.

“It is even more challenging when such an asset is owned by the people.

“I am happy to say that this vessel is a blessing for my constituency and people, but now the onus and challenge is on us to respect and look after it,” he said.

Children of Peochakuri welcome their new ship on the wrecked MV Hauran

“I urge our people of South Guadalcanal and all travellers to take ownership and responsibility over this ship.

“The success or failure of this ship depends on us,” he added.

A business arm of the Constituency, the South Guadalcanal Corporate Service Company Ltd (SGCSCL) will manage and run the vessel.

The ship arrived in Honiara on Monday night and is expected to commence its scheduled trip to the constituency and other parts of Guadalcanal this month.