Empty shelves in Highlands after bridges collapse

National, Normal

Report and picture by ZACHERY PER

FUEL and basic supplies in the Highlands region are running out after two bridges collapsed on the Henganofi section of the Okuk Highway.
The bridge collapse grounded trucking firms from ferrying cargo and fuel into the five Highlands provinces over the past two weeks.
Containers bound for merchandisers and service stations in the region are stuck in Lae, Morobe province.
Some of the fuel suppliers and supermarkets contacted yesterday confirmed that they had not restocked their warehouses and some fuel kiosks have put up notices notifying customers that they had ran out of fuel.
Goroka’s New Century Supermarket’s supervisor, Bisop Iarume, said their new orders for goods were stranded in Lae while their warehouse had not received new stock for the
last two weeks.
“We are quickly running out of regular consumables like rice, tinned fish and corned beef, flour, sugar and frozen food,” he said.
“If the situation is not rectified, goods and fuel will run out and people will face extreme difficulties,” he added.
Fuel pump operator at Goroka Inter-Oil service station, Sydney Leki, said their pumps were dry since 2pm on Thursday.
The situation is the same in Simbu with some service stations in the provincial capital running low on diesel, kerosine and petrol.
A spokesman at Inter-Oil Eagle Fuel in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands province, said they were receiving supplies from Dobel depot outside Mt Hagen city.
“There is no more stock coming in so we might run out if no trucks come within the next week,” the fuel pump operator, who declined to be named, said.
Kongo Coffee Exporters managing director Jerry Kapka said they were not able to move their coffee out to Lae for shipping.
“Our shipments are being delayed continuously. We have several loads of imports coming up but they too have been delayed.
“Our fuel supplies have also dried up and not long, all our vehicles will be grounded,” Mr Kapka said.
The bridges that collapsed were at Henganofi and Nazarrete creeks near the Henganofi district office.
Only light vehicles were allowed to pass through the temporary bridges that have been built.