My condolences to all the families who are going through such a difficult time trying to accept the tragedy. We need to face and accept this fate, mourn (we Tongans are good here) but we need to learn and make a turn (we are not very good at this). May I make a humble plea not only to the Government but also to the responsible decision makers in this country:
Help and comfort the ones directly hit by this. Money comforts a lot of Tongans, money are paid in these cases where insurances exist. The ones left behind need to know that they did not do something wrong and that their loved ones did not make the wrong decisions by getting into that boat! Everyone that paid the fare to enter that boat should believe and have trust in the capability and the seaworthiness of such a boat.
1.Please pay an amount of at least 2000,-Tongan Dollars for each lost soul. It won’t bring back their souls but will help in a lot of areas. You will see, a lot of them will donate it back to the church and will eventually flow through transactions back to the country.
2.Please release a fair report on how old, how bad the condition of the boat was. Inform them of what really happened, whether it was overloaded or not, whether there were enough life saving utilities in the boat or not.
3.Inform them that the Captain and the crew were not fast enough in judging the situation and hence informing the passengers about the SOS situation. That they did not know that such a situation would arise, that they were not prepared for an emergency situation like this.
4.Admit sometimes that wrong decisions or mistakes were made. Makes a normal person feels better.
We need to change a lot in our attitudes towards safety and securing situation in our simple Tongan lives (example here at Sea ):
1.Learn to swim (I learned swimming here in Germany at the age of 22!!!) / Teach swimming at an early stage (your child is laughed upon here at school if they can’t swim by the age of 9!!).
2.Does anyone in Tonga know where the lifesavers are when they get into a boat? And that with a lifesaver they can float for a few days?
3.Does each boat in Tonga has enough lifesavers per passengers, that travelling by sea is not a piece of pleasure walk along the beach? At least be alert and prepared of eventual emergencies!
4.Shipping companies need to do their homework not only with training their personnel but also with the maintenance of their own vessels.
Yes, we Tongans are people of the sea and the sea will take us if we don’t really care and cooperate with it’s rules and regulations. After all Lifesavers, Seat belts and air bags were invented after a lot of accidents claimed millions of lives. I may not be directly involved and may not have direct relatives here but I would like to see a change in securing our Tongan transport systems and won’t wait with my crying until my loved ones are directly claimed!!!
Faka’apa’apa mo …etau koloa Tonga ko e lotu mo e fakamalo!
Falamoe Fau’ese Weber
Falamoe [at] gmail [dot] com