More than 140 gas stations have refused to receive gasoline from distributors because their workers are facing “troubles, blackmail and physical assault and are not being able to protect themselves,” the representative of distributors, Fadi Abu Shaqra, said on Tuesday.
In a phone interview with the National News Agency, Abu Shaqra called on security agencies and Internal Security Forces head Maj. Gen. Imad Othman to “protect the stations that are performing their duties.”
Asked about caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar’s meeting with MPs last week and what the central bank requested from him for the import of fuel to continue, Abu Shaqra said there was a proposal to adopt the LBP 3,900 dollar exchange rate to “ease pressure on the central bank,” reassuring that “there was no talk of lifting subsidization in a complete manner.”
Commenting on the fuel shortage crisis, the representative added: “Distributors and the owners of stations are not the cause of the crisis. The high demand in the market is rather leading to the quick consumption of the quantities that are being injected into the market.”
Distributors and stations are also “facing pressures and problems due to the shortages,” he said.
The fuel shortage crisis has worsened in recent days and many are blaming it on increased smuggling into Syria from the tiny country.
Long lines have formed outside gas stations in cities and towns across Lebanon, choking traffic. Motorists line up for hours to fill up but only receive rationed amounts of fuel. Nerves have frayed in the long waits and in a number of incidents, angry drivers have fired guns in the air to jump the line or demand more fuel.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped government, which has dwindling foreign reserves, is struggling to secure fuel and subsidize imports that include most of the country’s basic goods and medicine.