Monday, March 19, 2012

Rebels set ships on fire

REBEL elements on Buka Island torched three Rabaul Shipping vessels – mv Solomon Queen, Kopra 3 and Kopra 4 – on Saturday, The National reports.
 The vessels were towed from the wharf towards Sohano Island through the Buka passage, grounded on a reef and set alight.
No lives were lost, police said, but some bags of copra aboard the vessels went up in flames.
Armed men in banana boats formed a cordon to make sure no-one tried to board the ships to put the fires out.
The vessels had been stranded at the wharf since Feb 2 after they were seized by people seeking compensation for the victims of the mv Rabaul Queen, also owned by Rabaul Shipping.
The ship sank in heavy seas off Finschhafen on Feb 2 claiming the lives of more than 200 passengers while 237 were rescued.
According to eyewitnesses, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, a number of armed men were seen arriving from Central and South Bougainville late last Friday night.
They boarded the ships and early the next morning, the three vessels were seen being towed to the outskirts of Buka passage where they were set alight.
At 10am on Saturday, people on Buka could see the ships burning outside the harbour.
Bougainville police on Buka said their officers were not equipped to confront the armed men. But they were monitoring the situation and trying to resolve the matter peacefully.
The Bougainville peace agreement bans law enforcers from using weapons.
Bougainville President John Momis condemned the actions of the men, saying the rule of law must be respected.
Rabaul Shipping, or its owner Peter Sharp, had not issued any statement.
Thick smoke was still coming from the ships yesterday.
About 10 banana boats with armed men on board could be seen from the shore guarding the burning ships.
Government officials and police were still trying to figure out what provoked the men to burn the ships.
An ex-combatant who asked not to be identified denied that the Mekamui defence force was involved in the burning which he believed could threaten the peace and stability of Bougainville.
He said the situation in Buka and Kokopau towns was tense as more than 100 armed men were moving freely across the Buka passage, selling loot, particularly fuel, from the three ships.
He said the men involved were mainly renegades operating individually and did not represent ex-combatants of Bougainville.
“The hijacking of the three ships started out as a means to get Sharp to pay compensation for the Bougainville lives lost in the Rabaul Queen tragedy,’’ he said.
“But it turned out differently when opportunists joined the cause, pretending to support our genuine interest when really they were serving their own.”
After seizing the ships, they had asked for K50,000 to “provide security”. Later, their demand increased to K350,000.
Rabaul Shipping had come back with an offer of K100,000 provided the ships were released first.
The company closed its office in Buka earlier this month and managed to evacuate the 15 crew members on board


  1. Anonymous2:36 PM

    That's how the game is played in Bougainville.
    You do not listen to their demands.. They come the hard way. They fougth a 16 year bloody war and have won it! That's Bougainville Style.
    Bai yumi tok wanem!

    Mero Kawas

    1. Anonymous11:39 AM

      Good start to independence, God bless Bougainville

  2. Anonymous4:14 PM

    they think they have won buy burning those three ships but Mr. Sharp get insurance for those ship.

    come on people, lets not be typicxal PNG'S by doing it our way.

    what they should have done was to take the ship out of his hands and claim for the province and it's people to provide serveice for the ARoB people..

    think! think!

    he's gonna be sitting back and receiving his payout while we suffer!

  3. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Sad to see that now NOBODY will get compensation that way. You see commets are correct. He will have Insurance payout on the ships. His employees will have no jobs to go to. THe people who are most dependent to move cargo will now have to find other ways to get the cargo moved which in turn will increase the cost of DOING business in PNG. The mentality that PNGeans have to get compensation for every little act of God in this case it was not the fault of the owner for getting freak huge waves to capsize his ship. Maybe an error of judgement on the captains fault for sailing in rough seas. Not a good enough reason to rob the ships and hold them hostage and than deprive the people of Buka passage to get to where they need to go. Now copra will rot on the docks until some other company is "BRAVE" enough to do business there and have plenty guards to protect the ship at all times and raise the cost of fares now and cost to move goods. People of PNG wake up to reality. I am going to stay anon as I am afraid that some PNGean will want compensation for my saying these words and try to shoot me too.

  4. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Fighting with ego without consideration of neighbour is bad. Let's be real. Bougainville did not win war. The crisis made so called rebels become gun wielding clever crooks. Claims culture is a norm on Bougainville. So it is no wonder the ships got burnt. What is next? ABG office? It is indeed shameful.

    1. Anonymous11:23 PM

      You may have your opinions, as I said that's the
      Buka way of solving problems. Be assured that your friend Peter Sharp will not get a single toea cos under the insurance policy Bougainville is not covered. May the sharp triplets rest in peace on the reefs of Buka island. ol Buka no save wari!!!

    2. Anonymous11:43 AM

      That is fact. How much pollution to the beautiful sea out there? Buka no save wari-Let us solve it with barrel of the gun. Gun is strength isn't it?

    3. Anonymous5:15 PM

      Were your children killed in the disaster??? I have a right to me angry