BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
NGELLA Constituency’s Member of Parliament (MP) Hon Bartholomew Parapolo has hit back at critics over the Constituency’s ‘Vaka Motor’ (ship).
Parapolo in response to questions raised during his last Constituency Tour at Haleta Village, Big Ngella, clarified that Tulaghi Police have detained the Constituency boat over registration matters. He said SIMSA gave the order because the boat has not been registered.
‘Vaka Motor’ in actual fact is called ‘Mid-Island’ and cannot be registered. This is because it is not in compliance with SIMSA’s regulations. Parapolo elaborated that the boat was not designed to carry passengers like other passenger vessels, thus the registration cannot be done.
The boat is a speed landing craft and under the approval of Parapolo was purposely to carry project materials and machines. This is so that they can load timbers including market produce to come to Honiara or other areas within their Constituency.
“Only if developments of roads and infrastructures take place on the mainlands of Sandfly, Big Ngella and Small Ngella before the consideration of another bigger passenger vessel purposely for passengers, cargoes, materials and markets will come into place too from the understanding that cash flow in Ngella is already in a good stage”, Parapolo said.
The Ngella MP explained that in terms of cash flow, a passenger ship cannot operate on the freight of one bag pana (root crop vegetable) or less daily. He said from past experience, Ngella people are not very good in paying full fares, resulting in the breakdown of past Constituency ship operation.
Besides, Parapolo told Constituents that one cannot just purchase a big passenger vessel for their Constituency with only $2 to $3 Million. He said the money used to purchase big passenger vessels as done by other Constituencies are grants being bettered making it possible for them to purchase big passenger vessels that usually cost around $8 Million or more.
Parapolo reported that the Constituency ‘Vaka Motor’ costs them $4.5 Million.
“The design of the boat was approved by me for its purpose and through the Ministry of Finance, the money was sent to the company overseas delivering the boat for the Constituency.
“There are certain people including intending candidates who are the ones always trying to twist around the understanding of people on this issue purposely to tarnish my reputation but to let you know, there is no such thing as any criminal doings of me misusing funds or whatsoever as such false rumours on the detainment of the Constituency boat. If people want to accuse me of such then take me to court and let us prove it. Don’t gossip falsely behind my back,” Parapolo said.
Central Islands Province (CIP) Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Inspector Hugo Maelasi confirmed that the said detainment is not because of any criminal offence but is in accordance with the Solomon Islands Maritime and Safety Administration’s (SIMSA) compliance laws.
In communication with SIMSA’s Administration earlier, SIMSA have been waiting for the ‘Vaka Motor’ shipowners to approach them for ship registration since its arrival two years ago. To date, it is still not registered.