Diesel shortage paralyzes Egypt’s highways

Diesel fuel shortages continued throughout Egypt on Sunday, causing cars and buses to form 500- meter-long queues at some gas stations, as supply quantities were cut by half in many areas of Cairo and the provinces. Several fights between drivers over limited supplies of diesel fuel were reported, with police having to intervene in some cases.

A number of tour-bus drivers complained they couldn’t meet their travel itineraries due to ongoing shortages.

"I blame the Petroleum Ministry for failing to import additional quantities," said Alaa el-Kholi, manager of a local travel agency. "Our buses are currently parked on the Sharm el-Sheikh highway and in other places."

Roushdy Yasser, manager of a gas station on Cairo’s ring road, said his daily allotment of diesel fuel had fallen from 50,000 liters to only 18,000 liters. His counterpart at another station nearby, Mahmoud Yousri, said he had been forced to call the police after drivers lining up at his station began fighting with one another. "My daily allotment of diesel has decreased from 80,000 liters to 30,000," said Yousri. 

Even the nation’s bakeries have been affected by the shortages, with dwindling amounts of available diesel allowing them to light their ovens for only a few hours at a time. Seven bakeries in the delta province of Qalyubiya reportedly lodged complaints with police against the manager of a local gas station, alleging that the latter had charged them LE25–instead of the usual rate of LE22–per jerrycan of diesel.

Karam Beshai, owner of an outlet in Cairo that distributes diesel to local bakeries, said his distributors told him that they were unable to supply him with fuel. "They said they would give priority to vehicles, since bakeries can use natural gas for fuel," he said.

One official at the state-run General Petroleum Authority attributed the supply shortage to the crop harvesting season currently underway, when overall demand usually increases by some 15 percent.

But according to Hossam Arafat, head of the fuel department at the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce, overall diesel stocks have fallen by as much as 40 percent compared to the same period last year.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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