Inter-island ferries in Tonga are still travelling to Niuatoputapu despite the facts the signal and beacon lights were damaged in the 2009 tsunami.
Sediment from the tsunami has filled the channel to the wharf so the ferry is now navigating a shallow passage.
The MV ʻOtuangaʻofa once ran aground in Niuatoputapu while navigating its way through a channel out of the Pasivūlangi harbour.
There have been claims that some passengers fell into the sea when the vessel forced its way to the wharf and tried to unload.
Some of the ferries have to stand out to sea and unload into small boats.
The CEO of FISA, Mosese Fakatou was quoted by Kakalu ʻo Tonga newspaper as saying the Marine Department said they had no money to fix the eight year old damage.
The government allocated a budget for six voyages to the Niuas a year and this can be increased if there are emergencies.
The treasury and the Niuas steering committee are responsible for the allocation of the travel.
Four voyages were assigned to FISAʻs vessel, the MV ʻOtuangaʻofa and two to be shared by the MV ʻOnemato and MV Pulupaki.
Fakatou revealed to the paper the MV ‘Otuanga‘ofa ran aground at the Pasivūlangi because there was no signal lights.
It was reported in 2014 the ferry hit a rock and its bow grounded at the harbour before freeing itself.
Fakatou said they had become aware the MV Pulupaki, a privately owned ship, repeatedly sailed to the Niuas causing a problems to their services because of the agreement FISA would conduct four voyages.
The MV Pulupaki was currently inoperative and the MV Onemato took over and serviced the Niuas.
Fakatou said this time they complained to the Treasury and the Niuas committee. The paper did not say whether or not there was any response to his complaint.
Fakatou claimed the people of the Niuas complained to him and asked why the MV ʻOtuangaʻofa had stopped travelling to the Niuas.
He said the Niuans did not want any other ferry to serve them.
He told the Niuans to lodge a complaint with the Treasury and their Niuas committee as they are the ones who made the changes.
The Niuas MP, Feʻao Vakata, told the paper the MV ʻOtuangaʻofa at one stage took about 24 hours to unload and some passengers fell into the sea.
He described the situation as “very dangerous.”
Vakata was responding to reports by local media that the Niuans no longer wanted the MV ʻOtu Angaʻofa to come to the Niuas.
Vakata said that was not true as he was the one who had the power to choose which ferries would travel to the Niuas based on the conditions of the wharf.
He said a three tonne van was planned to be sent to Niuatoputapu and he chose the MV ʻOnemato for that voyage because the MV ʻOtuangaʻofa cannot dock at the harbour.
However that voyage was eventually cancelled, he reportedly said.
The main points
- Inter-island ferries in Tonga are still travelling to Niuatoputapu despite the facts the signal and beacon lights were damaged in the 2009 tsunami.
- Sediment from the tsunami has filled the channel to the wharf so that the ferry is now navigating a shallow passage.
- The MV ʻOtuangaʻofa once ran aground in Niuatoputapu while attempting to reach the wharf because of the restriction.
- There have been claims that some passengers fell into the sea when the vessel forced its way to the wharf and tried to unload.
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