Culture secretary Anthony Turoa says much of the cargo is made up of dangerous goods and fuel and the cost of shipping it north will add an extra $200,000 to the total cost of returning pa enua residents and cargo to their home islands.
“There are still some leftover dry goods and infrastructure materials, however the majority is dangerous goods.”
Turoa said yesterday the total transport costs for Te Maeva Nui would amount to around $2.6 million, made up of air and sea transport.
The dangerous goods and fuel were destined for Rakahanga, Manihiki and Penryhn and would be transported on the General Transport barge Layar Mas, by the end of the week, he added.
When CINews visited the wharf on Monday, quantities of timber and water tanks were also stacked outside the cargo shed. Several men were working on what appeared to be a number of used agricultural implements, which Turoa said were among items still to be transported to Manihiki.
Asked why some cargo still remained to be shipped when the original government plan had called for it to be transported to the northern islands immediately after Te Maeva Nui ended in early August, Turoa said that under maritime safety rules, dangerous goods (gas, diesel and petrol) could only be transported by ship with a limited number of people aboard.
Asked to comment on allegations by some Penrhyn visitors that the ship chartered to carry their team and cargo had been inadequate and not up to the same standard as the ship used to transport Manihiki visitors, Turoa said that originally two ships had been allocated to pick up passengers and cargo. They were the MV Lady Naomi from Samoa which was to pick up Pukapuka and Nassau residents and was capable of carrying 250 passengers and the MV Otuangaofa from Tonga, which could carry 400 passengers and was to pick up Penryhn and Rakahanga residents.
“However, due to a cyclone hitting Samoa and Tonga in April and May both these ships were withdrawn from the charter by their respective governments and were redirected to focus on disaster recovery transport to islands affected by the cyclone.
“We were left to find alternatives and the MV Nivaga from Tuvalu was the only boat available as other ships around the region already had planned schedules.”
Turoa said the Culture ministry was happy with the way the festival transport operation had been handled.