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Sri Lanka rationing fuel after shortages

April 15, 2022

Fuel shortages across Sri Lanka have prompted fuel rationing. For the seventh day in a row, protesters demonstrated in front of the president's office.

Motorists on motor bikes line up at a gas station in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo to buy fuel
Following a government debt default, restrictions were placed on how much fuel customers could buy at a timeImage: Pradeep Dambarage/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Sri Lanka began fuel rationing for vehicles Friday after shortages were reported across the crisis hit island nation.

The company responsible for two-thirds of the retail fuel market in addition to fuel importation and distribution, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, said the supply of fuel was being restricted immediately.

A person riding a motorcycle is allowed to pump a maximum of four liters, those with three-wheeled motorbikes five liters and those in cars are restricted to 19.5 liters.

How bad is the fuel crisis in Sri Lanka?

For a week now, shortages have triggered protests in front of the president's office. About 5,000 have gathered, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka president clings on despite crisis

Several gas stations have been forced to close due to a lack of fuel while others have long lines of customers queuing up for fuel.

Transportation services have also been hard hit. The shortage of diesel for generators has resulted in lengthy power outages.

What is the state of the protests?

While the protesters gathered outside the president's office are mostly young, they have been joined by prominent figures in music and sports. Elsewhere in the country, solidarity protests are taking place as well.

Sri Lanka's leader faces street protest

On Friday, one policeman was taken to court after he joined the protesters. He stood accused of incitement for his actions. His lawyers successfully got him released on bail after arguing he had a right to his express an opinion.

At least eight people have died while waiting in fuel lines since last month.

How is the fuel shortage driven by other crises?

The country's economic crisis is the worst since the country declared independence in 1948.

Sri Lanka grapples with economic crisis

The crisis was originally driven by the pandemic driving down remittances and chasing tourist dollars away.

It has also led to a shortage of US dollars, driving down imports, widespread blackouts and much misery.

Theshara Jayasinghe, the chairman of the state-owned cooking gas company Litro Gas and a close ally of president Rajapaska, resigned Thursday over the "prevailing situation."

Next week, Sri Lanka is to meet with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as India and China in search of financial support.

Sri Lanka engulfed by debt crisis and protests

ar/kb (AFP, dpa)