Fuel shortages cause jams at Haiti gas stations

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has promised to provide Haiti will all of the fuel it needs.

Fuel shortages cause jams at Haiti gas stations

Fuel shortages are creating long lines at gas stations in the devastated Haitian capital by earthquake survivors desperate to fill up to drive injured loved ones to hospital or flee the city.

Last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed businesses in Port-au-Prince, including companies that import gasoline and truck it to service stations.

Many motorists say they have tried for days to fill their empty tanks or jerrycans at service stations that jacked up prices and rationed gasoline sales.

Most of the people swarming the wrecked streets of Haiti's capital are doing so on foot because their motorcycles or cars have run dry.

"I have several people hurt in my house and need fuel to take them to hospital or at least buy food, water and bandages. This is my fourth time trying to buy gas," said Serge Basler, 50, in a crowd at a Total gas station.

"I just have to keep trying, I have no choice."

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti since the earthquake killed as many as 200,000 people and left the capital in ruins.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has promised to provide Haiti will all of the fuel it needs.

A shipment of 225,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel from Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA will arrive on Thursday at a refinery in the Dominican Republic for use in neighboring Haiti, the Venezuelan embassy in Washington said in a press release. The shipment will include aviation fuel.

The U.S. Army said Haiti's port terminals for imported fuel were functioning normally and that logistical and staffing problems had interrupted deliveries to gas stations.

Lack of fuel has hampered the distribution of emergency food rations, water and medical supplies by road, leading the U.S. military to resort to airdrops from helicopters.

"Fuel has become a critical issue in terms of being able to get vehicles with water and food out to people," a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme, Emilia Casella, said in Geneva.

Many residents say they would have fled the capital, where hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from food shortages and looters are on the rampage in some areas, to stay with relatives in the countryside if they could fill up their cars.

Armed police guarded those gas stations that were functioning and pump attendants tried to keep shouting crowds in order as priority was given to ambulances, rescue trucks, foreign aid agencies and media crews.

"The problem is not a lack of gasoline, it's that the fuel companies were hit by the earthquake, their offices are gone, their supply logistics are gone," said fuel station manager Paul Renand.

"We've been rationing and prioritizing but we will run dry tomorrow. I have called a driver directly and I'm expecting a delivery of 8,000 gallons (30,000 liters) any time from tomorrow."


Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2010, 15:30
Add Comment