Monday, August 8, 2022

Sri Lanka economic crisis: Schools closed, people working from home to save fuel

Soldiers in Sri Lanka on Monday handed out tokens to people queuing for petrol, while schools in Colombo were closed and government employees were forced to work from home amid a severe fuel shortage in a country battling its worst economic crisis in seven decades. was asked to

With its foreign exchange reserves at record lows, the island of 22 million is struggling to pay for essential imports of food, medicine and most critically, fuel.

WD Shelton, a 67-year-old autorickshaw driver, said, “I have been in line for four days, I haven’t slept or ate properly during this time.” Available.

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“We can’t earn, we can’t feed our family,” said Shelton, who was 24th in line at a fuel station in the center of Colombo, but prepared to stay there because he had no access to his home. There was no petrol for the journey. Just 5 km (3 mi) away.

It was not immediately clear how far the government could stretch its fuel stockpile.

Stocks are around 9,000 tonnes of diesel and 6,000 tonnes of petrol, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Sunday, but there is no fresh shipment.

The government has asked employees to work from home until further notice, while schools in the commercial capital Colombo and surrounding areas have been closed for a week.

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The queues at fuel stations have increased sharply since last week. “It’s a tragedy, we don’t know where it will end,” Shelton said.

Public transport, power generation and medical services will get priority over fuel distribution, with some rations for ports and airports.

An International Monetary Fund team is visiting Sri Lanka to negotiate a $3 billion bailout package.

While the Indian Ocean nation is hoping to reach an employee-level agreement before the trip ends on Thursday, it is unlikely to unlock any immediate funding.

Nation World News Desk
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