18 Sep 2009

French Polynesian shipping crippled over protest at new contract

11:28 am on 18 September 2009

Shipping across French Polynesia is coming to halt as the ferry service between Tahiti and Moorea has been suspended in a row with the government.

President Oscar Temaru gave a licence to a foreign-owned company to use the King Tamatoa fast ferry for a service to the Leeward Islands.

This prompted local shipowners to stop sailings between Tahiti and Moorea immediately, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.

They say they want the King Tamatoa deal to be scrapped but Mr Temaru has told the assembly thsi morning that his decision stands.

Locally owned ships still at sea will suspend their services once they arrive in port in Tahiti.

The sudden suspension of passenger shipping services has led to boost of air travel, with extra flights being put on between Tahiti and Moorea.

A meeting is planned for tomorrow between the ship owners and the French high commissioner.