SHIPPING COMPANY PULLS OUT OF LAE, PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 22) – Thousands of Papua New Guinea residents will be affected by the decision by Lutheran Shipping to stop passenger and cargo services out of Lae to Oro Bay, Alotau, Kimbe and Rabaul from October 1.

Lutheran Shipping management said the decision had to be made because of the high fuel costs, which had rendered the routes Lae-Oro Bay-Alotau and Lae-Kimbe-Rabaul uneconomical.

Milne Bay and Oro people living and working in Lae and other areas of Morobe Province, Madang and the Highlands provinces have benefitted from the cheaper passenger service that Lutheran Shipping has provided.

The same goes for people of West New Britain, East New Britain and other New Guinea Islands provinces living and working in Lae, the other Mamose provinces and the Highlands.

It is just under K300 for a return fare to Alotau, and under K200 to Oro Bay. To Kimbe, it is less than K300 and to Rabaul, less than K400 per adult passenger. Passengers were also able to carry more personal cargo for less.

The company started with fortnightly services to those ports, then reduced that to monthly and from October 1, will cease the services altogether.

The introduction two years ago of passenger services by another shipping firm, Rabaul Shipping along the same routes on a more regular basis, also dried up passenger numbers for Lutheran Shipping.

The management said there had also been pressure from members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, owner of the company, to concentrate the services in areas that were predominantly Lutheran, which are Morobe and Madang provinces.

There have been several letters published in the View Point pages of the Post-Courier where Lutheran church members complained about the deteriorating services to areas including Finschhafen, Wasu, Rai Coast and Karkar.

September 23, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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