Three Rabaul Shipping ships went ablaze at the weekend in Buka.
Now what? The Bouganville government has distanced itself from this act. The media reports, this was the rebels doing and by doing so US9 million dollars went up in flames. But the discussions on Facebook are interesting.
That this act will affect the islands region, that the general travelling has never been safe and that air transport is too expensive.
Here is what Ben Yamai says about this incident. “This incident was not an act of freeing people from oppression. It was a criminal act with little or no regard for the consequences which the greater part of Bouganville and the New Guinea islands region will suffer. People and cargo transport will now be severely hampered.”
Ben Yamai goes on to highlight some very critical areas that have been neglected over the years, and a fatal accident of February 2 where MV Rabaul Queen sank in Finschaffen taking with it 229 passengers, gives Papua New Guineans the opportunity talk about them.
The areas Ben highlighted are: incompetency of maritime regulatory agencies, high airfares, and general neglect of leaders to ensure transport services in this country is safe and affordable.
Safety does not seem to be a priority in the public transport industry in this country. Only months before the Rabaul Queen tragedy, an Airlines PNG aircraft went down in Madang taking with it 28 people. But Rabaul Shipping has been in the spotlight with one of its boats running aground in Kimbe in December 2010, and only after a week of the Rabaul Queen sinking the same boat ran aground again in Kimbe.
And so here the discussion centres around laws, the boats and the access of services.
But Barbara Maxtone-Graham takes us further to point out that “when a peoples are pushed to the edge they will push back…regardless of where in the world they are.” She reminds us that “while it’s easy to list off the reasons and the wrongness of this…perhaps this is also an opportunity to address the depth of feeling and hopelessness of a peoples who would carry out such acts.”
What is US9 million dollars lost compared to 229 lives lost? The torching of those ships is a call for the Papua New Guinea government to start looking after its people and the transport sector has been overlooked since independence.
While Peter Sharp has tried to make transport services available he has not helped to regulate the public transport industry so that its customers are safe. Instead he has capitalised on the demand. As Simon Merton pointed out Peter Sharp may benefit from a hefty insurance payout but where does that leave this country with its transport woes?