6 Mar 2010

Poorly maintained ships in Marshall Islands lead to fuel shortage

10:57 am on 6 March 2010

The second largest urban centre in the Marshall Islands, Ebeye, has been short of gasoline and kerosine for several weeks because poorly maintained ships are out of action.

About 10,000 people live in Ebeye five kilometers from the Kwajalein missile range.

The outer atoll of Jaluit has also run ouit of diesel needed to keep its power plant operating.

The situation has been made worse by a dispute between the fuel distribution company and the owner of the one private vessel still operating.

Vehicles on Ebeye have not driven for weeks, water taxis can't take people to Kwajalein and people can't cook on their kerosine stoves.

Our correspondent in the Marshall islands, Giff Johnson, reports.

"Fuel comes into Majuro from Mobil Oil, Exxon Mobil, then it has to be trans-shipped out to these other islands and the Marshall Islands government ships have basically all collapsed. They're all being repaired right now."

Giff Johnson says the major welding repairs to the hull of a government vessel are hoped to be completed by next week.

If the ship is seaworthy this weekend, fuel deliveries may start again early next week.