16 Sep 2013

New legislation will make shipping safer in PNG - Authority

3:17 pm on 16 September 2013

The head of Papua New Guinea's National Maritime Safety Authority believes updated legislation will make safety standards on passenger vessels more robust and help avoid a repeat of the Rabaul Queen tragedy.

The ship sank in February last year off the coast of Morobe province with police saying 162 people lost their lives.

A Commission of Inquiry last year found the ferry was unseaworthy and viewed the agency as having not fulfilled its obligations.

It called for the Merchant Shipping Act to be reviewed.

The Authority's CEO Chris Rupen says they have now received the first draft of the revised Act and says it will give the agency more teeth.

"What we would like to put into the new revised legislation is something like the Marine Orders which they have in Australia which have the effect of law so that the CEO of the National Maritime Safety Authority can issue, of course they're subject to checks and balances, but the Marine Orders would probably be the way to go."

Chris Rupen says they hope the final draft will be ready in December.

Seven people have now been charged in relation to the disaster, including the owner of the Rabaul shipping company, Peter Sharp, who is facing 162 charges of manslaughter and sending an unseaworthy vessel to sea.