10 Feb 2012

Former safety authority member: owner of sunken PNG ferry law unto himself

3:04 pm on 10 February 2012

A former member on the board of the Papua New Guinea body in charge of maritime safety says it was almost impossible to make the owner of the ferry that sank last week obey the rules.

246 people were rescued after the MV Rabaul Queen sank in rough seas near the end of a 20-hour journey from Kimbe to PNG's second largest city, Lae.

The National Maritime Safety Authority says the ship's owner, Peter Sharp, runs a company that controls more than 90 percent of PNG's passenger ferry market.

Radio New Zealand International asked the authority's former board member, who asked not to be named, if Mr Sharp generally complies with regulations.

"He wouldn't allow people on his boats, if, you know, for inspections and things like that he'd put gag orders on his staff, so I would say, I think that would probably have to be a no."

A former member of the board of PNG's National Maritime Safety Authority.