Sri Lanka Economic Crisis: Sri Lanka is out of Deisel, No commercial vehicles, No electricity in Hospitals
Colombo, March 31: Diesel is no longer on sale across Sri Lanka on Thursday, crippling transport as the crisis-hit country’s 22 million people endure record-long power blackouts.
The South Asian nation is amid its worst economic downturn since independence, sparked by an acute lack of foreign currency to pay for even the most essential imports.
Petrol was on sale but in short supply, forcing motorists to abandon their cars in long queues.
We are siphoning off fuel from buses that are in the garage for repairs and using that diesel to operate serviceable vehicles,” Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said.
Owners of private buses — which account for two-thirds of the country’s fleet — said they were already out of oil and that even skeleton services may not be possible after Friday.
We are still using old stocks of diesel, but if we don’t get supplies by this evening, we will not be able to operate,” chairman of the private bus operators association Gemunu Wijeratne told AFP.
The state electricity monopoly said they would be forced to enforce a 13-hour power cut from Thursday — the longest ever — because they did not have diesel for generators.
We are promised new supplies in two days and if that happens, we can reduce the length of power cuts,” Ceylon Electricity Board chairman M. M. C. Ferdinando told reporters
The electricity rationing also hit mobile phone base stations and affected the quality of calls, operators said, adding that their stand-by generators were also without diesel.
The shortages have sparked outrage across Sri Lanka, with local television reporting protests across the country as hundreds of motorists block main roads in several towns.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen 70 per cent in the past two years to about $2.31 billion, leaving it struggling to pay for essential imports, including food and fuel.
“The reason for the shortages is not a shortage of any commodity but the shortage of dollars,” said Dhananath Fernando, chief operating officer of Colombo think-tank Advocate Institute told news agency Reuters.
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