Land locked Paraguay is suffering a shortage of fuel because a serious drought has left the main river, and lifeline, too shallow for vessels with a plus ten feet draught, according to the capital Asunción press.
The latest reports indicate that barges carrying 6.000 tons of gasoline and diesel are waiting to tranship to smaller vessels which will then transport the much needed fuel to the capital Asunción for its distribution. The situation is particularly embarrassing for the government since fuel demand has increased because of the vacation period and the fact that Pilar, the last available port along the River Paraguay, has no storage facilities. "We're facing a critical situation" said Victor Bogarin skipper of the "Misiones" tug involved in the operation, "because some of the canals are even threatening vessels with less than ten feet of draught. Other vessels loaded with containers are also waiting for transhipment or unloading to have the merchandise transported by land. But there's an additional challenge, the highway linking Pilar with Asunción is in much disrepair and needs maintenance. Paraguayans are quite annoyed with the new government because this is not a new incident and during the electoral campaign it was mentioned as one of the infrastructure priorities. On this occasion as in previous ones, Paraguayan authorities set up temporary docking facilities and have contracted several tugs, but there are no immediate prospects of addressing the issue building fuel storage facilities. The latest reports indicate that the River Paraguay in Pilar continues to drop at a rate of one to three centimetres per day and on Friday was 1.89 meters deep. To reach Asunción, vessels leave from Montevideo or Buenos Aires, up the Paraná River and then to one of its main subsidiaries the River Paraguay.