11 Feb 2010

Tonga's outer islands running short of supplies after last ferry ruled unseaworthy

3:04 pm on 11 February 2010

Supplies in some of Tonga's outer islands are running short a few weeks after the only remaining ferry was deemed unfit to sail.

MV Pulupaki was detained by the ministry of transport last month and there's now only a small cargo boat sailing between the main and the outer islands.

A dive operator on Ha'apai Island, Sabine Frank, says the boat is only supplying bigger Chinese owned stores and restaurants.

"The small Tongan shops are already running a bit low on stock so you can definitely see that they have trouble getting supplies in here. One of the bakeries has run out of flour, so they had to seize production; they are not able to make bread anymore. Here in Pangai we only have two bakeries, so 50 percent of the supply is already gone."

Sabine Frank says hotels and tourism operators are unaffected as most tourist arrive by plane while drugs for the hospital are also still unaffected.

Hundreds of people have been left stranded by the ferry fallout.