26 Jul 2010

Wallis power company chief flees to Noumea amid fears for safety

7:44 pm on 26 July 2010

The manager of an embattled electricity company in the French territory of Wallis has fled to New Caledonia over fears for his safety.

Workers have been blockading the electricity supply on Wallis for the past four months over high energy tariffs.

Power is supplied by EEWF but the workers claim to have taken over operations with the support of the King of Wallis.

RFO radio reports power and water supply have returned in the past few days after EEWF engineers, protected by police, restarted machines.

A New Caledonia-based director of the company, Yves Morault, says an engineer had to leave Wallis after being attacked two months ago and the general manager also fled after an attack.

Mr Morault says the company has been taken over by pirates.

"You know the Mutiny on the Bounty? I feel like Captain Bligh. I'm in the middle of the ocean on a little dinghy and the pirates are sailing away with my ship."

The local government in Wallis has called for calm and a round table discussion.