The first shipment of aid sent to Tonga by community members and New Zealand businesses is finally unpacked after completing mandatory quarantine in Tongatapu.
Fifty-one containers have so far arrived at Queen Salote Wharf in Nuku’alofa, but Tongan authorities only have enough manpower to manually unload two containers a day. So it will take up to four weeks.
Secretary Pakilau Manase Lua has appealed to New Zealand companies asking for at least four forklifts to be sent to Tonga.
“It’s a huge task. We’ve probably had over 80-100 volunteers come in – spread over the last three to four weeks, so it’s a huge effort.
These things are heavy, they weigh around 150-200 kg on average, so we had some help with the forklifts so we know the pain the brothers in Tonga will go through trying to unpack these things.
More help is on the way and the Aotearoa Tonga Relief Committee wants to help speed up the unloading process by sending forklifts.
Pakilau said the Mt Smart Stadium team in Auckland also needed additional forklifts.
“This is incredible news, our co-chair, the Hon. Jenny Salesa received good news last night, some of our containers have already been unloaded despite the lockdown delays and recent cases of Covid-19 and have been passed through customs and inspection and were distributed to the villages”.
“These are the first containers to be unloaded, it’s a huge logistics [process]you can understand that Tonga has limited capacity on the wharf, they can only clear two containers per day apparently of our goods.
There’s almost 51 containers that have been sent over the past two weeks from here, they all landed in Tonga around the same time, so that’s a lot, that’s over a thousand tons of shipping and nearly five thousand people pieces of drums, boxes”.