BY NICK DALTON
DOCK WORKERS have started loading the 62-container MV Southern Tiare in Cairns ahead of the first weekly shipping service between Cairns and Papua New Guinea which starts on 19 August.
The Cairns business community believes the service, operated by Silentworld, will provide a crucial link to enable companies to send goods to PNG and take advantage of the mining boom.
Silentworld director Meyric Slimming said he was pleased with the response of about 30 container-loads since launching the service last month. He said the first load included fresh produce, building materials, machinery and project equipment such as portable lighting systems.
Mr Slimming said the backload, also at about 50% capacity, included, copra, timber, a crane, and a helicopter and a flour mill being sent to Cairns for repairs.
"We are also bringing back empty containers," he said. "People are waiting at both ends to see how it goes. It’s the chicken-and-egg theory.
"We believe after the first couple of runs it will go off with a bang and quickly reach full capacity. That’s when we’ll have to look at a bigger ship."
Mr Slimming said the advantage of their service was having a small vessel with quick turnaround and guarantee of berths while larger ships had to wait offshore for slots to become available.
Business development manager, Tomas Bill, said the company was trying to create relationships between Cairns and PNG businesses. He said it was important for those wanting to use the service to book in advance.
"We need at least two days notice to meet Customs requirements," Mr Bill said.
Both men have flown to PNG about eight times to drum up business and negotiate with the Port Moresby Port Authority and government authorities to make sure the first voyage goes as smoothly as possible.
Source: Cairns Post