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PNG to ban vehicles more than 5 years old

21:48 Tue Feb 14 2012

The Papua New Guinea government will introduce legislation banning the import of ships and motor vehicles older than five years and impose heavy taxes in an effort to clean up the nation's transport industry in the wake of the MV Rabaul Queen disaster.

In parliament on Tuesday, Transport Minister Francis Awesa said he had instructed his department to work on introducing tough new measures on the transport industry.

"All transport will be under review," he said.

"I have instructed the Ministry of Transport to look at putting a 1000 per cent tax on any vehicle more than five years old. We will impose taxes on second-hand vehicles.

"Any ship more than five years old ... should not be brought in," he said.

"All Papua New Guineans know, we are being used as a dumping ground."

The MV Rabaul Queen sank 12 hours into its journey from Kimbe in rough waters off the coast of Lae more than two weeks ago with more than 350 people on board.

Rescuers plucked 246 survivors from the ocean more than eight hours after the sinking.

Mr Awesa said he also wanted to break the dominance of four shipowners in PNG, of which owner of the MV Rabaul Queen, Rabaul Shipping, is one.

Describing how some passenger ships in PNG are tug boats made for towing logs, not people, for three or four hours, he said it was unfair to ask people to use them.

"These boats are not made for the 12, 24-hour journeys."

The cost of importing vehicles in PNG, which has no motor industry of its own, is already huge.

Import tariffs currently add between 10 per cent to 110 per cent to the cost of a second-hand car or four-wheel drive.

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