25 Fishing Boats Sunk by Cyclone Seroja, Leaving 300 Fisherfolk Out of Work in Ndao Island, Rote Regency

NDAO-ROTE, www.sinodegmit.or.id, As a result of Cyclone Seroja, around 300 fisherfolk in Ndao Island, Rote Regency are out of work because their boats have sunk.

Marsel Ledoh (64) from the Oli neighborhood of Ndao-Nuse village, reported that about 25 fishing boats on Ndao island were sunk by high waves on Monday, 5 April, including his own boat.  Passenger boats used to ferry residents to the main island of Rote were also among those that were lost.

After the storm, according to Marsel, the Regent of Rote-Ndao, Paulina Haning, and the Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, Viktor Laiskodat,  visited Ndao on Saturday, 17 April.

During their visit, Marsel represented the sailors of Ndao in reporting the loss of their boats, although as of Sunday, 25 April there has been no response from the government. 

“When the Governor and the Regent came I spoke  for the 300 sailors of Ndao who have lost their livelihoods because their boats have sunk.  Then the Governor said that after he returned to Kupang he would send a passenger boat to help with transportation, but we haven’t had any news since then.”

According to Marsel, the people of Ndao currently have difficulty getting basic household needs and building materials, because there is only one boat remaining that wasn’t destroyed by Seroja. It is their only access to travel and supplies. 

“We here on Ndao still have some money,  but transportation is difficult.  I used to have one of the passenger boats that we relied on to bring supplies to Ndao, but now it is gone. So we’re hoping the Governor will fulfill his promise and send us a boat,” said Marsel.

He added that thus far aid from the regional government had been limited to rice, tarpaulins, blankets, clothing, and medicines in very limited amounts. For example, each person only received 1.5 kilograms of rice

Based on data from the Moderator of West Rote Presbytery, Rev. Ira Radja Pono, damage from the storm affected 117 houses belonging to GMIT members, of which 4 were destroyed, with the remainder suffering light to medium damage. GMIT members had also lost 12 fishing boats.

Rev. Selly Eluama, pastor of  GMIT’s Imanuel Lendeiki-Ndao congregation, reported that her parsonage had also been damaged. “The height of the storm was on 5 April in the middle of the night, and then again the next day at 2:00 in the afternoon.  The roof of our parsonage lost about 10 sheets of tin roofing, so that night I took shelter in one of the rooms that was still safe.”

According to Rev. Selly, aside from the small amount of aid provided by the government, there had been no other aid since the storm.  The residents had been working together to help one another repair damaged homes as best they could with whatever material they could salvage.

“Our greatest need right now is for a boat for transportation,” Rev. Selly said.

The island of Ndao is located off the western tip of the island of Rote, and measures about 5.7 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. The island is home to about 3,000 residents, or 800 families. Travel to Ndao is normally by motorboat or interisland ferries, and takes about 2 hours from the Nemberala tourist beach on Rote.   

This coral island has only a very small amount of arable land, so nearly all residents seek their living from the sea, or from tradisional crafts such as weaving and gold- and silver-smithing. ***

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