The besieged Haitian capital is on the brink of abyss over fuel shortages | World news
By MATÍAS DELACROIX, Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – The Haitian capital is on the verge of exhaustion due to fuel shortages, after faltering despite an earthquake, the assassination of the president, gang violence and kidnappings massive.
More than two weeks of fuel deliveries interrupted by gang blockades and kidnappings of tanker drivers have caused residents of Port-au-Prince to desperately search for gasoline and diesel. Fuels are widely used to run the generators needed to compensate for the country’s unreliable electricity system.
The city’s main fuel terminals are located in or near gang-dominated neighborhoods like Martissant, La Saline and Cité Soliel, and some gangs have reportedly demanded extortion payments to allow tankers to pass.
Gangs have become a powerful force in Haiti. One of the gangs recently kidnapped 17 members of a US-based missionary group and reportedly demanded a ransom of $ 1 million each for their release, warning that the hostages would be killed if their demands are not met. There is no word yet on their fate.
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The gangs have also kidnapped hundreds of Haitians, and the government seems unable or unwilling to confront them.
Protests erupted on Saturday in the Delmas district, where gas stations are out of gasoline. Police arrived and dispersed the crowd with warning shots of what appeared to be live ammunition.
Some of the country’s mobile phone networks have experienced service cuts due to lack of fuel to operate cell phone tower equipment.
Officials at Saint Damien Hospital, the capital’s main pediatric center, said it only had three days of fuel left to run the generators that power ventilators and medical equipment. The hospital can run partly on solar energy, but this does not provide enough electricity for all of its needs.
Denso Gay, the hospital’s project manager, said Saint Damien treats two patients with COVID-19 and also handles urgent surgeries, such as cesarean sections.
“I am very worried,” Gay said. “The situation is very critical.
“Oxygen runs on electricity. If we don’t have electricity to run the oxygen and the (medical) devices, we will have to shut down ”to new patients, he said.
Gay estimates that the roughly 1,500 gallons of fuel left in the hospital’s reserve tanks would last only about three days.
The hospital normally receives deliveries of about 3,000 gallons of fuel twice a month.
“We contacted the company and they said they couldn’t deliver, that they couldn’t drive through town due to the danger to the drivers,” Gay said.
Many gas stations remain closed for several days at a time, and the fuel shortage is so severe that the CEO of Digicel Haiti announced last week that 150 of its 1,500 branches across the country were running out of diesel.
Hundreds of protesters blocked roads and burned tires in Port-au-Prince on Thursday to protest the severe fuel shortage and rising insecurity.
Alexandre Simon, an English and French teacher, said he and others were protesting the dire conditions Haitians face.
“There are a lot of people who cannot eat,” he said. “There is no job … There are a lot of things that we don’t have.”
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