Cash-shrinking Sri Lanka’s main seaport unveiled a free bicycle service on Tuesday, allowing workers to navigate the facility without a petrol-powered vehicle as the island nation struggles with an unprecedented energy crisis.
The island nation is facing its worst financial crisis since independence, struggling to pay the authorities for an adequate supply of vital imports.
Drivers around the South Asian country are forced to spend hours or even days waiting for rationed fuel at gas stations.
Prashant Jayamanna, chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, said the bicycle initiative was aimed at storing petrol at the Colombo deep-sea container port.
“For those who come to the port, we have built a bicycle track next to an unused railway line so that they can use bicycles instead of other vehicles,” he told reporters.
The port is located on 469 hectares (1,160 acres) of land in the capital of Sri Lanka, with the longest road extending four kilometers (2.5 miles) through the facility.
Shipping lines running through the port – located in the Indian Ocean, along the world’s busiest east-west maritime trade route – have donated 100 bikes to launch the initiative, Jayamanna said.
Despite Tuesday’s announcement, Jayamanna said the port was a “deterrent to economic woes” plaguing Sri Lanka and was supplying petrol from its own reserves to dock workers struggling for energy sources elsewhere.
“As we have buffer stock of fuel, we are continuing our work as usual,” he added.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis was triggered by a crisis in foreign exchange reserves that left importers unable to source food, fuel and other commodities.
Massive inflation, frequent blackouts and long queues for necessities have made the lives of 22 million people on the island miserable.
The government is seeking emergency assistance from the International Monetary Fund, and Sri Lanka has defaulted on $ 51 billion in foreign debt.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Sunday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
Jayamanna said the crisis has not hampered port operations, which generate most of its revenue in dollars and still plans to pay for the $ 500 million expansion.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)