THE Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Samiu Vaipulu revealed this when the House debated issues relating to the medium range Maohi oil tanker.
Hon. Vaipulu who is also the Minister of Transport says his ministry has commenced making plans should an oil spill does happen.
That includes national and net plan in place, according to the Deputy PM.
“We are prepared for any incident like that is likely to occur. We use an oil spill response equipment when a boat sunk at ‘Eua to avoid oil spillage…When incident like that occur, there’s a oil spill containment boom in place. Experts know what to do, all are well prepared,” said Hon. Vaipulu.
He added all these plans are in compliance with the requirements from the International Maritime Organisation..
“Tonga’s law dictates that every oil tanker and foreign bigger merchant vessels must pay taxation excluding local ships as it would be a burden to the people.”
According to Hon. Vaipulu a task force committee set up to oversee such mishap last met in 2006 and they now have regular meetings to avoid incidents like the Ashika tragedy.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s comments came when Tongatapu 1 constituency MP, ‘Akilisi Pohiva as well as Ha’apai 12 constituency MP, Mo’ale Finau questioned the seaworthiness of the oil tanker.
In response to their query, Hon. Vaipulu maintained the oil vessel is seaworthy for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sign are clearly written on the stern of the ship.
Hon. Vaipulu affirmed this means the ship’s seaworthiness had been approved by IMO.
Despite all these,Tongatapu 3 electorate MP, Dr. Sitiveni Halapua called on government to produce a report on the Maohi oil tanker project proposal as this is a very important issue in efforts to reduce the fuel price in Tonga.
“I think it would be better and easier for the House to deliberate on the matter when we are given a written report on the oil tanker project,” said Dr. Halapua.
The Deputy PM reassured the House that a report of the oil tanker project must be produced to the House.
“At the moment, the negotiation process is continuing and once that is sorted out it will then be submitted to the House for consideration,” said Hon. Vaipulu.
At the same time, he said this is one of the government’s action plans to work closely with the people to improve their lives.