Tonga’s new inter-island ferry , the MV Maggie Cat has been forced to head back to Neiafu port this morning because of bad weather, the Friendly Islands Shipping Agency CEO Mosese Fakatou has confirmed this to Kaniva News this afternoon.
He said the ship is currently docking at Puatalefusi and was expected to leave for Ha’apai and Tongatapu on Monday.
As we reported previously, the Friendly Islands Shipping Agency (FISA) has introduced a catamaran to run passenger-only services to the kingdom’s outer islands.
The new ferry is expected to cut the travel time to Vava’u and the outer islands from 24 hours to nine hours. It will begin operations this week.
The new ferry was commissioned in a ceremony at the Queen Salote Wharf No. 3 yesterday by Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister-in-Charge, Lord Ma’afu, Cabinet Ministers and Government officials including the shared Board of Directors for Transport Sector, FISA and Ports Authority Tonga.
In his speech, the Crown Prince said the safety and security of people had to take precedence before any other economic considerations.
His Royal Highness thanked the Government of Tonga, for ensuring that the transportation needs for the people has been made a priority.
He also welcomed the vessel’s Australian owner, Captain Cook Cruises for sharing their expertise with the people of Tonga.
The government is paying TP$10,000 a day to hire the Australian catamaran.
The shipping agency’s CEO, Mr Mosese Fakatou said the MV Magggie Cat would provide a temporary service to fill in for the MV ‘Otuanga’ofa which is undergoing service and repair in Fiji.
M.V. ‘Otuanga’ofa has been out of action for four months.