Boat operators warned

Transport Secretary Roy Mumu is appealing to boat operators in maritime provinces to heed strong wind warnings that are being issued by the weather office during this festive period.

He said operators of banana boats should take precaution and refrain from traveling in the open seas during times of strong winds.  

“My transport message is clear, let’s enjoy the festive season,” Mumu said.

Despite similar appeals being issued year in, year out, reports of missing boats continue in the maritime provinces.

The role of search and rescue under the transport sector falls under the National Maritime Safety Authority.

CEO of the National Maritime Safety Authority, Paul Unas, said one of its function is to coordinate maritime search and rescue.

“We are putting a lot of resources into improving that particular section.

“Recently the board has given its approval for NMSA to acquire and procure a search and rescue management capabilities  for us to be able to improve our capabilities within that particular unit to respond to search and rescue coordination,” Unas said.

Transport Minister Wesley Nukundj said for the people living along the coast, going out to sea is an everyday event for them and the department needs to provide transport that is easily accessible for them

“For me, banana boat is not the way to go. You have one skipper and you see 20 people on the boat and it’s not safe.

“Under my leadership we want to try and phase that out, get a form of transport that is user-friendly.

“Banana boat is not safe,” the minister reiterated.

Sally Pokiton