MV Touaraken 3 at Lenakel Wharf yesterday inspected by Tafea Police.

Photo: Supplied

Tafea Police Patrol yesterday detained the captain of MV Touaraken 3 at Lenakel wharf for breaching State of Emergency orders.

The vessel had gone to Tanna with fresh supplies of fuel for the island with authorization from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) for transportation of fuel only and cargo only.

The Tafea Police Patrol under the working group of Border and Security under the Tafea Emergency Operations Centre had to detain the captain of the vessel after four passengers were found on board the ship.

David Kiel from Tafea’s FM 104 station says the Secretary General of Tafea Province, Mr Joe Iautim, had to contact NDMO to find out about the trip made by the vessel and it was confirmed that the vessel was authorized to ship only fuel and cargo to Tanna.

But yesterday morning when MV Touaraken 3 berthed at Lenakel Wharf, an inspection was made by local authorities and it was discovered that there were four passengers on board that travelled from Port Vila to Tanna.

Because the captain allowed four passengers to travel without authorization from NDMO, Tafea Police detained the captain for 24 hours and will be released today to return the vessel to Port Vila.

The four passengers are currently under a 14-day quarantine at Lenakel Hospital.

Chairman of the Tafea Emergency Operation Centre, who is also the Secretary General of Tafea Province, says any vessel that travels to Tanna must get authorization from NDMO and that NDMO must also notify the Emergency Operations Centre of Tafea so that he as Chairman can alert working groups in the border and security sector.

Mr Iautim says based on existing orders, ships that go to Tafea ports must be clean and have hygiene kits such as soap and water for washing hands.

Inspector Alfred Koanmawi, Acting Commander for Tafea says following the action taken on the captain of MV Touaraken 3 yesterday, he is appealing to all people of Tafea Province that live throughout Vanuatu that security in Tafea is currently very strict and entering Tafea currently will not be easy, especially with precautionary measures taken to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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