I couldn’t ignore this departing ‘Chief’ from the Port Moresby container wharf a few days ago. There are quite a number of these container vessels called ‘something’ Chief. Since locating to this office I’ve seen a couple of the other ‘Chiefs’ as well namely, the Moresby Chief, Hiri Chief and a few others.
The Island Chief was built in 1990 and registered in Hong Kong. It is one of the multi-purpose container vessels belonging to the Swire Shipping fleet represented here in PNG by Steamships Trading Company. STC has been in operation in PNG for nearly a century – celebrating 90 years of operations in PNG in 2008.
Against the morning sun, the coastal hills in the background and a calm sea, it was a magnificent sight! I couldn’t help wondering where the containers were been shipped to. This could be cargo bound for Lae or farther afield.
I imagined this ship being transformed into a PNG tourist ship for inter-island and coastal tourism. Something along the lines of leisure cruises like this idea in Vienna, Austria but along the coast of PNG. Hmm…how many passenger cabins can it hold complete with en suite bathrooms and toilets, a dining area, a swimming pool perhaps etc. For instance, this ship could be on its way to Magarida, Suau, Alotau, Tufi, Lae, Madang, Rabaul, Buka or Manus etc. Yeah, and what if this present container wharf were to be transformed into a base and hub for seagoing PNG domestic tourist vessels. We could have shops selling artifacts, food, PNG jewellery etc all along Stanley Esplanade. This would be a welcomed hive of tourist activity. It is an exciting thought I must admit. I came back to planet earth when the telephone on my desk started ringing…ahhh
Anyway, the sight of these big container carriers – large and small, coming in and going out each day is supposed to be a good indicator of economic activity, right? I’m sure it’s a question that everyone asks or ponders and many other questions pertaining to economic activity and the real results on the ground I guess, especially the one very big question – why are food prices so high these days in Port Moresby? I need to ask an economist one of these days.
As I watched Island Chief manoeuvreing out into the calm blue waters of Fairfax Harbour this morning en route somewhere, I recalled a song I learnt at Brownie gatherings on Kwato Island, Milne Bay Province. It goes something like this, “The big ship sails on the alley-alley o…”. It is actually a nursery rhyme. I surprised myself. This ship, the Island Chief, setting sail had triggered off a memory – a song I learnt many years ago when I was a child. I guess the next question I’ll be asking is what triggers memories? I need to ask a psychologist for this, right? But for now I’ll just relax.