11 Aug 2009

American Samoa's MV Sili needs upgrade to be sailing again

12:55 pm on 11 August 2009

The American Samoan government's vessel the MV Sili will not be allowed to sail again unless urgent safety upgrades are undertaken.

The US Coastguard gave the ship, which can carry 110 passengers, a special waiver to make one trip to the Manu'a Island group last weekend, but has said that no further exemptions will be granted.

The Fono has reconvened and is likely to consider the budget for 2010 later in the month.

But a special bill requesting 1.3 million US dollars for work on the MV Sili could be tackled earlier.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Fili Sagapolutele, says people are worried about the vessel's safety:

"They really want to make sure that the vessel is safe enough to sail and especially the Coastguard, they have a duty and responsibility to the people of all the states and territories to make sure that passenger vessels are certified and safe and the Coastguard is pushing to make sure that all these issues are addressed before a permanent certification is given to the MV Sili."

Fili Sagapolutele says while money is set aside in the annual budget for maintenance, there are no provisions for safety upgrades.

The government's other vessel, the MV Manuatele also needs urgent repair and has been out of operation for more than a year.