Clashes at gas stations as diesel crisis escalates

Diesel fuel shortages continued in Cairo and the governorates on Monday, leading to clashes between frustrated drivers lining up outside gas stations. The Petroleum Ministry, however, has denied the existence of any shortfalls in the quantities of diesel fuel supplied to gas stations.

Shortages of both 80-octane and 90-octane gasoline have also been reported in a number of governorates.

Numerous taxi drivers have been reduced to purchasing diesel from gas stations in jerrycans after having run out of fuel for their vehicles. Citing the ongoing shortage, many have reportedly increased fares unilaterally.

Traffic on Cairo’s ring road, meanwhile, has been paralyzed owing to the large number of trucks forced to park there after having run out of gas. One policeman was reportedly killed and two others injured in an accident while on their way to inspect the situation on the ring road.

Outside the capital, some drivers voiced suspicion that the government had deliberately caused the crisis as a justification for raising prices. In a recent visit to Minya, however, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif stressed that the government has no intention to increase fuel prices.

One fuel supply official in Minya blamed gas stations for the crisis, pointing out that local gas stations had reserves of some 3500 tons–enough for four days–worth of diesel.

In Suez, local residents urged Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi to intervene personally to resolve the problem, especially since Fahmi is also their representative in parliament.

In Mansoura, a fire reportedly broke out at a local bread bakery when a worker attempted to use a butane gas cylinder instead of diesel fuel to light his oven.

Abdallah Ghorab, CEO of the state-run Petroleum Authority, insisted that there were sufficient quantities of diesel on the local market and accused gas stations of hoarding fuel. Ghorab’s deputy, Mohamed Shoeib, attributed the crisis to the smuggling of diesel fuel to the next-door Gaza Strip.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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