There is a misconception out there in foreign media and foreign governments that the Government owned vessel, MV Olovaha and now MV Ashika was the only vessel providing services to the Northern Groups.
I respectfully ask that you correct this. This misconception will continue to pump foreign government money to our industry thru the government of Tonga; the private sector will continue to suffer because we can not possibly compete with government money. The Shipping Corporation should have been turned over to a private company long ago and forced to operate on the constraints of a profit-loss enterprise, but the Government continues to hang on to this company.
Those of us in the industry know that this has created a culture of complacency because they always have Government to bail them out and the Government will always cover them.
Everyone in our industry have known for years that the Olovaha was not safe and also the Ashika. This was a known fact, but elements within the Government continued to cover this up with paper work.
The maritime work force is a very small group, we loose people to them and they loose people to us. We know first hand from these sources the real condition of these two vessels. We have known for years that the Olovaha had a hole on its haul, one engine was completely out and the one operating engine was barely working. We knew that Olovaha could not make astern maneuvers because of shaft problems. We also know the problems with the Ashika and yet the govenrment allowed them to operate anyways.
My family have been in silence long enough. My family and I will
expose this hush-hush culture over the seaworthiness of the Olovaha and Ashika. You can either be part of covering the news or be the news.
Thomas M. (Soni) Uata
Uata Shipping Line
thomasuata [at] gmail [dot] com