11 Sep 2003

Truckies protest brings chaos to Noumea

5:26 pm on 11 September 2003

Truck drivers in New Caledonia have blocked a roundabout in Tontouta causing traffic chaos and limited disruption to international flights.

The protesters parked and left fourteen mine haulage trucks at the junction at dawn yesterday, forcing air passengers to leave buses and cars and walk along the roadside with their suitcases.

There was confusion before the departure of aircraft bound for Sydney and Tokyo just before lunchtime.

Air Caledonie International delayed departures for thirty minutes which helped passengers catch their planes.

The hauliers were working as contractors for Montagnat Mines and the company of Max Foucher.

Mr Foucher said a Japanese tanker was scheduled to leave the country today and it would leave empty because of the blockade.

He blamed the USTKE union for the situation but after breaking up the blockade later in the day he joined USTKE and Montagnat for informal discussions aimed at resolving the dispute.