Palau’s shopping centers and stores ran out of some food supplies for several days after the cargo ship carrying imported goods was stranded midway its route to Saipan when ‘Typhoon Hagibis’ made a landfall.

Netizens put into question Palau’s heavy reliance on import goods after shelves for food supplies such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, etc. in major stores were empty for several days, hence affecting not only the locals but the hospitality industry as well.

According to Palau Shipping Company, the cargo ship was originally expected to arrive in the country on October 7 but due to the delay, it came to the country only 10 days after on October 16.

Eurasia Pacific Lines, a local agent for the Mariana Express Lines that is in charge of the principal carriers that transport imported products to Palau, revealed that the cargo ship, Kota Harum, encountered some technical problems on its way to Guam hence causing the delay. But just as the ship was fixed and was travelling to Saipan, it was forced to delay the trip further because of super typhoon Hagibis that struck the island on October 7. The US Coast Guard, who was manning the Saipan port, closed the port because of the typhoon.

Eurasia Pacific Lines Manager Hiros Ulengchong, in an interview, said that they needed to make some arrangements to make sure that the two cargo ships that are servicing Palau and other countries in the Pacific will catch up on their regular schedules after the delays messed up the original arrangements.

Ulengchong said that the batch of imported goods carried by the second ship, Kota Hidayah, caught up with the Kota Harum’s schedule after the latter was delayed for days hence the company made the consensus to let the second ship carry all the goods.

“If we let Kota Harum continued its route after going to Saipan and then forced it to come to Palau, it will come on October 14 which is the same date of arrival as the ship that was stuck,” Ulengchong said.

“It’s something that was out of our control. We wish we could do anything about it but it’s just to the extent where we are limited to do what we want to do,” Ulengchong expressed.

The second ship then continued its route to Palau and carried with it 135 boxes of goods that were worth two-ship’s load. The first ship had to cut its route for it to be on time for the next shipment scheduled to arrive on October 28, Ulengchong explained.

“So we are having challenging [situation] but trust that everything will be resolved. We are doing our very best to get those ships to catch up their regular rotation so that everything will be back to normal,” Ulengchong said.

Meanwhile, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. commented during press conference on October 16 that the recent situation in Palau might be a good reason for Palau to understand the need to increase their local productions in aquaculture and agriculture industries.

The president said that it is within the capacity of the country as a community to beef up its efforts especially in vegetables and fruits production. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)