Thursday, 15 November 2007 4:31 PM

Crack Down on Overloaded Vessels

The Solomon Islands Police Force, the Maritime Division and the Ports Authority today launched a joint operation to crack down on overloading marine vessels.

It has been the practice for charter owners and boat owners to sell significantly more tickets for journeys than what the vessels are licensed to carry.

This has resulted in incidents of marine vessels attempting to leave the wharf carrying more passengers than legally permitted.

Over the past week, there have been instances police have intervened and stopped vessels leaving the wharf when carrying more passengers than legally permitted.

It is approaching the end of the year and people living in Honiara are looking forward to travel to their home islands for the festive season, which means an increase in the number of people looking to travel by boat.

Members of the public are urged to plan ahead and avoid last minute arrangements, which might be frustrating.

"If you want to travel and the boat you're intending to travel on is fully booked, it is advisable to book yourself for the next boat trip or get on another boat that has vacant travelling space," police advice in a statement.

The Solomon Islands Maritime Division is the appropriate authority to inspect these vessels to ensure the appropriate license is not breached and that safety equipment is available to all passengers.

The Head of the Solomon Islands Marine Division urges boat owners and charter operators to only sell the legal limit of tickets for each vessel.

It also warns that there will be legal actions taken if an overloaded vessel is involved in an accident. These unsafe and dangerous practices must be stopped.

"When a ticket is purchased, passengers should expect to travel on a vessel that has the required safety equipment and is not over the licensed number of passengers allowed on board," the Head of the Solomon Islands Marine Division added.

Any vessels identified to be carrying more passengers than legally allowed will be stopped from travelling for the safety of passengers and may be investigated.

The Ports Authority Harbour Master advises the travelling public that while it is normal to want to celebrate the festive season in home islands, it is important to know that the end of the year is also the cyclone season in this country.

The public's warned that seas might become rough at times and the worst thing would be to have an overloaded vessel out in the waters.