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The idled ‘Tomoko’ needs $1.2 million in repairs

By Moffat Mamu HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 7, 2010) – In the Solomon Islands, the Western Provincial government is hoping the new government would assist them to get Motor Vessel (MV) Tomoko back in operation.

That is if current plans to sell the passenger and cargo vessel fail.

Premier George Lilo told the Solomon Star MV Tomoko had been unable to operate for years due to mechanical problem.

He said the body of the vessel is still good except the engine.

Mr. Lilo said that to get a new replacement for the engine would cost around SB$10 million [US$1.2 million], an amount of money the province does not have at its disposal.

For the past years, the provincial government, through its shipping arm Transwest Shipping, had been able to operate the vessel using existing funds.

"But it has cost us over SB$10 million [US$1.2 million] to maintain the ship but we don’t have the money now."

The vessel is currently berthing at Gizo and there is a fixed cost to it every time it berths, the premier said.

He also said some of the parts of the engine had gone missing and the province, through its legal adviser, had positioned security guards in the ship.

Apart from a local tender to sell the boat, an international tender has also been arranged.

A few buyers have indicated their interest to buy the ship, Mr. Lilo said.

He acknowledged that MV Tomoko is a very good ship, which can carry a lot of passengers and cargoes at one time and had served the province well.

"And we want to see it up and running again, but we don’t have the funds to do that."

Western Province is one of the provinces which continue to face shipping problem.

Currently, Shortland Shipping Limited, Uta Shipping Limited, and Elite Shipping are providing services to the province.

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