It has put out a tender inviting Expressions of Interest from experienced shipping companies interested in providing a suitable passenger and general cargo charter in December this year and January, March and May of next year.
The passenger and general cargo charter will include trips from Rarotonga to northern group islands.
The minimum passengers needed for the first two charters in December and January are 150 each. The charters for March and May are for minimum of 30 passengers each.
Taio Shipping’s Josiah Taio said they would be able to put a bid for the March and May voyage, due to limited capacity on their vessels. Taio also said they do not have any vessels in Rarotonga to provide service for the first two voyages. “Looking at our capacity, we can apply for the tender which includes minimum 30 passengers. I think the government will have to look for a vessel outside of the country to cater for the voyages including 150 passengers,” Taio said.
A staff member from Ministry of Finance and Economic Management confirmed this was the first time government was arranging for transport during the festive season. Normally government caters for inter ferry service to bring in participants for the Te Maeva Nui festival.
Meanwhile the Finance ministry has set aside funds to purchase a new barge which will be providing cargo and possibly passenger services to the outer islands.
Financial secretary, Garth Henderson, said he would be able to make a more comprehensive statement about domestic shipping in several weeks’ time.
Henderson also confirmed there was, “No barge on its way to Rarotonga at this point in time,” contrary to reports that government had purchased a vessel to provide cargo services here.