This auspicious occasion was marked by the symbolic presentation of the key for the MV ‘Otuanga'ofa by the Japanese Ambassador to Tonga; His Execellency Mr. Yasuo Takase.
The Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. Dr. Feleti Vaka'uta Sevele, members of His Majesty's Cabinet, and senior government officials were present to accept this 38 Million pa'anga gift from the government & people of Japan; and to express their sincere gratitude and appreciation.
Members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, business houses, and the Japanese community in Tonga, were also in attendance to witness and mark this special occasion which included the Japanese tradition of breaking open a barrel of Sake.
The MV ‘Otuanga'ofa is the result of an aid grant from the Japanese Government for the construction of the new interisland ferry for Tonga. The contract for the aid grant was signed on 27 June 2008 between the Government of Tonga and the Government of Japan.
The construction of the new 1,500 ton vessel was carried out by the ISB Co Ltd Shipyard in Chiba Japan, under the management of Mr Toyonori Watanabe (Project Manager/Technical Director) of Fisheries Engineering Co Ltd., the consultant for the construction of the vessel.
On Monday 27th September 2010 at 12:10pm the vessel departed Japan bound for Tonga with 6 Japanese crew members on board headed by Capt Hitoshi Kumagai, and accompanied by 3 Tongan crew members. The MV ‘Otuanga'ofa travelled non-stop from Japan and arrived in Nuku'alofa on Friday 15th October 2010.
The MV ‘Otuanga'ofa can accommodate up to 400 passengers plus 22 crew members and has a service speed up to 12 Knots. It is expected that there will be three different types of fares to be sold to the travelling public. The expected time for commencement of commercial services is towards the end of November 2010, upon completion of crew training, sea trials and setting up of infrastructure and management systems.
The Friendly Islands Shipping Agency (FISA), a new established body under the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, is tasked with operating the MV ‘Otuanga'ofa. Captain Vaka'utapola Vi is the interim General Manager for the new agency.
Issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications, 2010. Information from Ministry of Transport. Tel: 24144.