Long queues outside gas stations as Sri Lanka fights for fuel

Long queues outside gas stations are fighting for Sri Lankan supplies

Petrol stocks will be available for the next six weeks, says Sri Lanka’s energy minister. (File)

Colombo:

Today there are long lines of snakes around the gas stations in and around Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, although the island nation’s government has stepped in to provide fuel and reduce any instability as it grapples with a devastating economic crisis.

The 95-octane petrol, which is used in most vehicles, has been obtained and is being distributed to 22 million people across the country who have been battling the energy crisis for months, said Sri Lankan Power and Energy Minister Kanchenjunga Wijesekera.

“With the unloading of 2 cargo ships, gasoline stocks will be comfortably available for the next 6 weeks,” Mr Wijesekera said in a tweet.

Another 40,000 metric tonnes of petrol supplied by India arrived in Sri Lanka today, the Indian High Commission (Embassy) said, two days after New Delhi delivered 40,000 tonnes of diesel to its southern neighbor.

Sri Lanka has been in its worst economic crisis since independence, with severe foreign exchange deficits halting imports and the country suffering from shortages of fuel, medicine and electricity.

The financial crisis stemmed from the convergence of the COVID-19 epidemic in the tourism-dependent economy, rising oil prices and tax cuts by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda’s government, who resigned as prime minister this month.

M. Sudera, an autorickshaw driver, waited in a two-kilometer (1.5-mile) long line on the outskirts of Colombo to fill his car, a popular form of public transportation in the city. Suburbs.

“Last time, I spent two days in line for fuel worth Rs 3,000 ($ 8.46). With that I rented a few but it was just enough to cover the cost,” said Mr Sudira, standing next to the parallel rows of autorickshaws. And motorcycles.

“Usually we run during the day and spend the night for fuel,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over as prime minister earlier this month, has warned that the crisis could worsen in the coming months, including with food shortages.

Protests against the government’s response to the crisis have continued for weeks and escalated into violence earlier this month, killing nine people and injuring more than 300. But since then the protests have been peaceful, though there is more anger against the government.

According to official data released today, inflation in the island nation rose to 33.8% from 21.5% in March.

Mr Bikram Singh’s cabinet has been expanded today, with eight new ministers sworn in for portfolios including agriculture, fisheries, industry, transport and highways, water supply and irrigation.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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