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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Dec. 8, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Ailinglaplap Atoll businesses and copra makers are being hurt by the lack of shipping service to their central atoll, a local businessman told the Journal last week.

Remming Ring, who runs a business on Woja Island in Ailinglaplap, said that the atoll has seen only one visit in the last nine months by a large copra pickup ship – and this, the Jeljelet Ae, has a capacity of only 160 tons, when more than 600 tons is waiting for collection.

Ailinglaplap is historically either the top copra producer in the country or number two next to Arno. But, said Ring, the lack of copra ships is a disaster for the makers, but even more so for businesses accepting copra in exchange for goods.

Businessmen such as himself are losing money because the weight of copra they bought decreases over the many months it sits from such things as rats and other factors.

"Copra turning to dust," he said.

Moreover, a drop in price after businesses have paid a high amount, can also hurt the business, he said.

"The government says it is helping the private sector," he said. "But I don’t see it. We need to get the copra shipped to Majuro."

He said he’d already sent a letter to top government officials advising them that there is in excess of 600 tons of copra bagged and ready for collection.

"We don’t have warehouses, so they just sit in the cook houses," he said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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