Two men carry filled containers of gasoline as they leave a fuel station in New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says rations will be enforced to ease the shortages in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

New York - New York City rationed gasoline on Thursday in response to persistent shortages in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that from 6am on Friday, only cars with licence plates ending in odd numbers would be allowed to fill up on odd-numbered dates. Cars with plates ending in an even number or a zero will be eligible on even-numbered days.

The rationing scheme was earlier implemented in neighbouring New Jersey because of a fuel crisis that has resulted in huge lines of cars and of pedestrians with jerrycans at gas stations.

“This is not a step that we take lightly,” Bloomberg told a press conference, noting that measures to ease the flow of fuel supplies had not worked well enough.

“Only 25 percent of our gas stations we estimate are open,” he added. “Frustrations are only growing and it now appears there will be shortages for possibly another couple weeks.

“Gasoline shortages as you know remain a real problem,” Bloomberg said, underlining that hurricane-strength Sandy, which was accompanied by severe flooding, “knocked out some of the critical infrastructure”.

Police officers will patrol all city gas stations to enforce the rationing order, the mayor said. - Sapa-AFP