PNG Police Waiting On Funds For Rabaul Sinking Inquiry

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Almost one year since tragedy, police ‘getting nowhere’

By Junior Ukaha

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 10, 2013) – Police are still waiting for funding from the government to investigate the MV Rabaul Queen tragedy almost a year ago, says Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga.

Feb 2 will mark the first anniversary of the country’s maritime worst disaster in which more than 200 lives were lost when the vessel sank off the coast of Finschhafen, Morobe.

While the pain and scars of the disaster are slowly healing in the lives of survivors and those who lost relatives in the tragedy, police are getting nowhere with their investigation into the sinking.

Kulunga yesterday said they were still waiting for the government to allocate funds for the exercise to start.

That is exactly two months after a similar response was given to this newspaper by Kulunga’s deputy and police operations chief, Simon Kauba last November.

It will be four months since the chief secretary to the government Manasupe Zurenuoc publicly handed over the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to the police and the office of the public prosecutor on Sept 7 last year, in Waigani, Port Moresby.

Police were to have conducted their own investigations to verify the findings contained in the CoI report.

Kulunga said costs had already been forwarded to the office of Police Minister Nixon Duban to forward to the government and they were waiting for the response from the government.

He said police would need millions of kina as it would be a large scale investigation that would involve a lot of travelling.

"Police are ready but we are just waiting for the funds," he said.

Director of crimes Donald Yamasombi will be heading the investigations into the sinking, Kauba said in an earlier interview.

Initially Kauba said close to K2 million [US$944,246] would be needed for the job.

A group of survivors and relatives of the deceased tried to stop a Rabaul Shipping vessel from berthing in Kimbe, West New Britain, recently, saying the matter had yet to be resolved and the presence of the vessel reminded them of the tragedy.

Many of the survivors and the relatives of the deceased throughout PNG want to know what action police would be taking on the CoI report.

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