BOUGAINVILLE SHIP STILL ON CAIRNS SLIPWAY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 6, 2000 – Post-Courier)---The Bougainville Provincial Government vessel, MV Sankamap, is still on the slipway in Cairns, Australia awaiting more funds to offset the repair bill.

Used to ferry passengers and cargo between Bougainville and other island provinces, MV Sankamap arrived in Cairns in February for a refit and service and has been there since.

The boat had on board 19 crewmembers when it went to Cairns.

The crew were repatriated after a month because of financial difficulties.

Vessel coordinator and Member of Parliament for Atolls, Pais Taehu, said work on the ship should be completed next week and the boat is expected back by the end of this month.

Mr. Taehu, however, said that the Bougainville administration needed another US$ 107,000 to pay for the refit.

He said US$ 267,000 had already been settled by the Office of Bougainville Affairs and the remaining would have to come from the provincial government.

"Most of the work on the ship has been covered and it is only a portion that is yet to be done," Mr. Taehu said.

"Inspections have been made and the refit is just about complete. The ship is waiting for Australian marine surveyors to determine its sea worthiness.

"When it eventually comes to PNG, our surveyors will carry out the same survey to fully verify the conditions of the vessel," he said.

He said he would be in Cairns next week to sort things out.

Bougainville administration officials yesterday said they would pay the balance of the refit bill, hopefully no later than in two weeks.

The officials said they wanted the ship back in operation as soon as possible.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Provided by Vikki John ( VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au

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