Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Committee To Seek Compensation For Rabaul Sinking
Group to address unresolved issues for survivors, families

By Grace Tiden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 7, 2013) – A committee comprising relatives of those who survived or perished during the MV Rabaul Queen disaster in Papua New Guinea was formed in Kokopo over the weekend to pursue compensation for the victims.

The committee which was formed right after the memorial service on Saturday in Kokopo, East New Britain, will also start organizing to make sure there is an annual event every year to remember the many lives that were lost at sea.

The committee is now planning to make a much bigger memorial service next year, which will coincide with traditional activities and feasting to end the mourning period. Another reason for forming the group was to organize fundraising activities to build a cenotaph in the province that will have names of their loved ones that died so that every year, a memorial service can be held at the monument site.

Chairman of the new committee and George Brown High School headmaster Mark Todol said they originally formed the committee because no one was looking at assisting or settling outstanding issues in relation to the many deaths that occurred.

He said they planned to have a series of meetings this year to achieve their goals. Mr. Todol’s son was a passenger on board the vessel but he managed to survive the ordeal. Young Trevor was traveling to Madang to take up studies at the Divine Word University. Other committee members include Dorcas Guta who lost her sister and her baby as well as Fidelma Tovue whose son died while making his way to work at Ramu.

The other members are Xystus Kinala whose wife and daughter perished during the mishap and John Burua who was a survivor but lost his two-year-old son. The sixth member is police officer Lawrence Tovue, whose son who was supposed to have completed his final year at the Divine Word University last year, also died.

After setting up the committee, the grieving relatives raised their frustrations at the failure of the National Government to respond to a petition that was handed over to Deputy Prime Minister Grand Chief Leo Dion months ago.

"The Government must assist us. They must share our pain. Our children who died tragically must be remembered," some of the parents said, adding that they were also disappointed that Government representatives were present for the memorial service.

They highlighted the need for the Government to seriously look at regulating passenger vessels so that no such accidents occur in the future.

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