17 Sep 2009

Tender process designed to ensure safety of Tongan ferry

12:14 pm on 17 September 2009

The aid agency, NZAid says the process it's using to select a new ferry for Tonga to replace the sunken Princess Ashika will ensure the new vessel is safe.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry is underway into last month's sinking, in which 74 people lost their lives.

NZAid is working with AusAid and the government of Tonga to select a replacement charter service by tender.

The deputy director for Polynesia programmes, Guy Redding, says the tender process is as thorough as possible.

"To ensure that we get the right vessel and a safe vessel. The The vessel needs to be fully in class, meaning certification is up to date from one of the international classification societies like Bureau Veritas or Lloyds or one of the others. Age of the ferry will also be a consideration"

Guy Redding says the panel considering tender submissions will make a recommendation to the Tongan government tomorrow.

He says it's hoped the charter service will be up and running within the next couple of months until it's permanent replacement, a new boat being built with Japanese aid money, is ready late next year.