18 Aug 2011

Signing planned to end New Caledonia transport row

6:25 am on 18 August 2011

An agreement is scheduled to be signed in New Caledonia today to end the conflict between the domestic airline and groups of travellers who had blockaded airports in protest at air fare hikes.

The dispute led to unprecedented violence on the island of Mare where attempts to break the airport blockade nearly two weeks ago left four people dead and another 30 injured.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"A government spokesperson says the protocol to be signed will provide for a three-month moratorium to address the situation at Air Caledonie and the cost of travel to the Loyalty Islands and the Ile of Pines in general. Today's signing in Lifou follows mediation by the customary Senate and will be attended by delegations from Ouvea and Mare where more than 140 police have been deployed to restore order. More than 150 people are reported to have come forward to testify as investigators are trying to identify the gunmen responsible for the four fatal shootings. There have been no arrests but more than 20 firearms have been seized."