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Bougainville Vessel Sankamap Still Stuck In Cairns

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By Moresi Ruahma'a

PORT MORESBY: The North Solomons provincial government-owned vessel MV Sankamap is stranded in Cairns, Australia, with some A$30,000 (K47,000) worth of donations bound for the children of Bougainville still awaiting for shipment.

It is stranded because of a debt of some A$200,000 (K317,000) in repairs.

The vessel has been stranded in Cairns for the last eight months – since early this year - when it travelled there for refitting and repair work.

The ship's captain and a few of his crew members are also stranded in Cairns, according to Cairns-based Bougainville Trauma Association (BTA).

It was reported earlier that because of the financial problems faced by the Department of Bougainville Administration in Buka, the vessel could not immediately leave the slipway.

At this stage the fate of the ship is unclear as there has been no word from the Department of Bougainville.

Yesterday, a source from within the Department of Bougainville told The National that Governor John Momis' Office is handling the matter of the ship.

However, attempts to contact Mr Momis' Office in Buka for comment were unsuccessful.

The BTA in Cairns, which was responsible for collecting donations for children in Bougainville, has appealed to the four Bougainvillean National Parliamentarians to bail out the ship.

BTA spokesman William Reinhardt told The National yesterday: "We would like to appeal to the four Bougainvillean National Parliamentarians to pool their electoral funds and help pay the bill for the slipway.

"We are concerned that any further delay to this ship will be very costly to the people of the island at a time when demands for transport services to and from the province are at an all time high.''

Mr Reinhardt also said that the BTA has been collecting donations from the Cairns community and have been counting on the Sankamap to ship the goods to Bougainville.

"These goods include wheelchairs, hospital beds, toys, educational materials, and other humanitarian aid," he said.

He indicated that an estimated A$200,000 is needed to bail out the ship.

"I have been talking with the ship's captain. He is lost and does not seem to know what's really happening,'' said Mr Reinhardt.

Meanwhile, in Port Moresby the Bougainvilleans who have been hoping to return home for Christmas along with goods for home, are also waiting while the frustrations grow.

"Something has to be done ... for many Bougainvilleans in the city, we are just hoping to get on MV Sankamap," said one of them.

+++niuswire


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