Funding shortage undermines maritime safety in PNG

Survivors of the Rabaul Queen. Credit: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

After the Rabaul Queen disaster, Papa New Guinea’s National Maritime Safety Authority is still short of the funding needed to do its job

Seven years after the sinking of the Rabaul Queen passenger ferry, Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) is still dangerously short of the funding needed to prevent future disaster. An estimated 181 people perished when the Rabaul Queen sank in 2012, according to a subsequent police investigation led by constable Ben Turi.

A commission of inquiry was set up to investigate the accident and was most scathing of the authority, stating, “If the NMSA had properly conducted its duties, it’s possible that Rabaul Queen would not have sunk.” The commission called for a major shake-up of maritime safety in PNG.

A key recommendation of the inquiry was that the government needed to provide the NMSA with adequate funding to do its job. The NMSA subsequently did receive assistance from abroad, including the Asia Development Bank, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Australia, and Japan. However, it still relies largely on self-funding to operate.

“We changed the ship levy to be based on gross tonnage in 2015,” captain Krzysztof Orlowski, executive manager, maritime operations at NMSA told SAS. “NMSA revenue doubled, this gave us the funds to run the show.”

This is an excerpt of the SAS December edition. To have access to the full article, and more SAS features, please subscribe here.