OVERLOADED SOLOMONS FERRIES POSE DANGER

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 21) – In the past week police have responded to a number of incidents that have occurred on the wharf in Honiara caused by overcrowded marine vessels.

Police said several charter owners have sold significantly more tickets for journeys than what some vessels are licensed to carry.

This has led to vessels attempting to leave the wharf carrying more passengers than legally permitted.

"It is very hazardous to be travelling at sea whilst overloaded," police said in a statement yesterday.

The vessels that have been identified carrying more passengers than legally allowed have been stopped from travelling for the safety of passengers.

"Many of these vessels do not have enough life jackets to supply all passengers. There is usually no safety equipment provided for passenger numbers in excess of licensed conditions," the statement said. "When a ticket is purchased, passengers should expect to travel on a vessel that has the required safety equipment and is not over the licensed number of passengers allowed on board."

It said the Solomon Islands Maritime Division is the appropriate authority to inspect these vessels to ensure the appropriate licence is not breached and that safety equipment is available to all passengers.

The delay of the vessels leaving has meant an increased number of people are in the wharf area and their disappointment of not being able to travel has caused frustration and distress from some intended passengers.

Police are urging charter operators to only sell the legal limit of tickets for each vessel, and are concerned a tragedy may occur if overloaded vessels continue to travel.

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