Issue No. 06/2021 – Friday, 29 January 2021 (Kitiona Tausi)
A big crowd assembled at the main wharf yesterday morning to witness the christening and the commissioning of the newly arrived landing barge, ‘Moeiteava’, a vessel that had been a longtime dream of the Government and the people of Tuvalu.
Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by the Acting Governor-General, Hon Samuelu P. Teo who is also the Speaker of the House of Parliament and spouse, the Prime Minister, Hon Kausea Natano and spouse, Representative from the Head Office of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, Rev Alefaio Honolulu, Cabinet Ministers and their spouses, Taiwan Ambassador, Excellency Mark Su, Managers of Non-Government organizations, Senior Government Officials, Island community leaders on the capital, the High Chief of Nukufetau who is currently on the capital and Heads of Island Councils for Funafuti and Nukufetau, the barge crew, representatives from development partners, church leaders of various denominations and all invited guests.
The Mistress of Ceremony, Mrs. Silati Filiake, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism explained that the function was to mark the inauguration of the new barge, ‘Moeiteava’ after its safe arrival in Tuvalu.
In her introductory remarks, Mrs. Filiake acknowledged the assistance from the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan in co-financing the vessel and also acknowledged the supports and efforts made by the Captain and the Indonesian crew in taking this vessel through the vast ocean to reach Tuvalu in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last but not the least, we thank you for the Government of the day for achieving this priority milestone and mostly to the ministry concerned, Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism for the logistics, preparation and arrangement,” said Mrs. Filiake.
As customary in Tuvalu, the program was opened with a brief devotion which included a gospel message and a blessing for the vessel. This was done by a representative from EKT’s Head Office, Rev Alefaio Honolulu.
Rev Honolulu based his message from the Book of Psalm 62: 5,6: “I depend on God alone; I put my hope on him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated.”
The theme of his message was: “Depend on God for he is your defender.”
“It has been a long and difficult journey taken by the barge, many lives have lost in the sea. This is the experience felt by the Psalmist for God is his defender and protector. David was a hero and he depended on God, a man that disciplined his life and he prioritized God in his life.
“Our assembly this morning is to give honor and respect to the barge and for her blessings. ‘Moeiteava’ is an important development for the nation and that God protects the vessel in her assigned duties,’ said Rev Honolulu.
He summed up his message by saying that we have been called to specific tasks and that we should discharge them depending and leaning on God because it is God only who will protect and defend your hopes, my hopes and ambitions for the prosperity of the nation.
Minister of Transport, Energy and Tourism, Hon Nielu Meisake gave the official response to this barge development. He said, “the barge initiative has been a long dream of the nation, and despite the many constraints owing to the current coronavirus pandemic, your Government did try its best to solicit ways that has enabled us to witness this morning.”
According to Hon Meisake, the barge departed Indonesia from Borneo, the country where the barge was built on 26 November 2020. She arrived Funafuti on 27 December 2020, a journey of 33 days. The barge is 39.9 meters in length and 10 meters wide. On the barge, there are two important equipment, a winch for loading cargo on to the workboat, and a forklift for bringing the cargo near the winch. The barge has a crew complement of 11 crew members that sailed the boat from Indonesia to Tuvalu.
For the operation of the barge, Hon Nielu said, “Government will establish a shipping company that will operate the barge and this company will work together with the Government in ways that it would be safe, successful and fulfil the nation’s requirements.
A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the Government and the new company and the two parties will have to comply with the requirements of the memorandum.
In terms of financial assistance, Hon Nielu explained that the total cost of the barge is US$1.6 million and has been co-funded by the Government of Tuvalu providing 45% and the Republic of China on Taiwan provided the other 55%.
Hon Meisake further explained the purpose of this barge development. “There are three main objectives of this development:
- To enable the easy transport of dangerous goods and building material from the capital to the outer islands.
- To separate these cargoes from being transported by boats that also carry passengers to allow comfort travel for passengers.
- To transport cargoes especially building material immediately on arrival from overseas to the outer islands knowing that projects on the outer islands have been stalled by the late arrival of building material on the islands.
The name of the barge is “Moeiteava” and it is the name that was selected from the list of names that was submitted for the name completion. The name was proposed by an elderly man from the island of Nukulaelae, Mr. Tui Tinilau.
Later on the programme, the winner of the name completion was given the opportunity to explain the meaning of the name ‘Moeiteava’ and also to receive the prize for the winner, and because he was not on the capital this time, his son Saamu Tui took the opportunity.
Mr. Tui explained that the word ‘moeiteava’ is a very common Tuvalu name and especially in local dance composition and it refers to a state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled, a situation where there is
nothing to worry about, everything is in order, there is complete containment, calmness, reassurance andserenity.
Hon Meisake further explained about the maintenance of the barge saying, “Government will jointly with the new shipping company be responsible for the maintenance of the vessel. The boat should be looked after very well as a precious property and especially those who are would crew the vessel. In fact, they should know the substantial benefits Tuvalu would reap in this initiative,” said Hon Meisake.
The Indonesian Captain who sailed the barge from
Indonesia was also given the opportunity to officially hand over the vessel to the Government of Tuvalu and he spoke in his native language and translated by an Indonesian Imam who is taking charge of the Muslim community here in Funafuti.
He explained that from Indonesia, they sailed through Papua New Guinea and it was fine weather and on arrival in Papua New Guinea, the weather began to change and the sea became rough and “we made it an experience and also a friend in our voyage,” said the captain.
“We came to the water of Tuvalu in the evening of 26 December 2020 and the weather improved until we anchored, and the we were told by the Boat Control that we have to get quarantined for 14 days, after-which we had a test and then another 14 days quarantine and finally we were able to set foot in Tuvalu on 26 January 2021 and we were well received by the people of Tuvalu.”
“On behalf of the building company, we are happy to hand-over the barge to the Government and the people of Tuvalu,” said the captain.
Following then, the Misytress of Ceremony, Mrs. Filiake invited the Prime Minister, Hon Kausea Natano, the Taiwan Ambassador, Excellency Mark Su and the Minister of Transport, Energy and Tourism, Hon Nielu Meisake to cut the ribbon tha officially launch the ‘Moeiteava’.
After the cutting of the ribbon by Prime Minister, Mark Su and Hon Nielu Meisake, there were cheers and applause from the crowd acknowledging the accomplishment of a great achievement.
Then after, Madame Selepa Kausea Natano, the wife of Prime Minister, Hon Kausea Natano and Madame Tamala Nielu, the wife of the Minister of Transport, Energy and Tourism, Hon Nielu Meisake were invited to christen the vessel and this involved the breaking of a champagne bottle at the bow of the vessel. Unfortunately, there was no bottle of champagne and instead a bottle of wine and then the crowd in loud acclamation wishes and shouted ‘manuia’.