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Sri Lanka Crippled as it Completely Runs Out of Diesel

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Sri Lanka Crippled as it Completely Runs Out of Diesel

Sri Lanka completely ran out of diesel on Thursday crippling transport and creating record-long blackouts for its 22 million people.

A lack of foreign currency means even the most essential imports cannot be paid for in the South Asian nation. This is because the nation is in the grip of its most severe economic downturn since independence.

According to officials and media reports, diesel — the main fuel used for buses and commercial vehicles — was unavailable at stations throughout Sri Lanka.

The supply of gasoline was short, forcing motorists to abandon their cars or wait in hours-long lineups.

Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said that fuel was being siphoned from buses that are currently in the garage for repairs so that serviceable vehicles can be operated.

No Deisel for Electricity

Private bus owners — who account for two-thirds of the country’s fleet — say they are already out of diesel fuel and that even skeleton services will not be available after Friday.

Gemunu Wijeratne, chairman of the private bus operators association, told Reuters that they are still using old stocks of diesel. If they don’t get supplies by this evening, they won’t be able to operate.

Due to a lack of diesel, Sri Lanka’s state’s electricity monopoly announced they would have to implement a 13-hour power cut starting Thursday.

The chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board told reporters that new supplies have been promised to arrive in two days.

He also said more than a third of electricity demand is met by hydro reservoirs, which are also dangerously low.

During the power outages, the Colombo Stock Exchange was forced to limit trading to half to two hours, while many offices asked non-essential staff to stay at home.

As a result of the electricity rationing, mobile phone base stations were also affected and their call quality suffered, operators said, adding that stand-by generators were also without diesel.

Sri Lanka hospitals stop surgeries

Sri Lankan state TV reported protests across the country due to the shortages, with hundreds of motorists blocking major roads in several towns.

A number of state-run hospitals have stopped surgeries because they have run out of essential medicines, and most have stopped diagnostic tests because they require imported chemicals that are out of supply.

In March 2020, Sri Lanka imposed a broad import ban in order to save foreign currency for servicing its $51 billion foreign debt.

However, this has led to widespread shortages of essential goods and sharp price increases.

The government has said it will seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund as well as more loans from India and China.

Sri Lanka’s crisis was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which crippled tourism and remittances. The government’s mismanagement, including tax cuts and years of budget deficits, is also blamed by many economists.

Sri Lanka is also plagued by rampant corruption, which undermines the rule of law. Family members, friends, and allies of the Rajapaksas have been given well-paying, state-funded jobs that require hardly any work.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and their two other brothers and Mahinda’s son oversee departments and agencies that collectively control nearly 70% of Sri Lanka’s budgets.

Massive Corruption in Sri Lanka

Meanwhile, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimization, created by Rajapaksa’s government, absolves the family and its allies of criminal charges.

The former Justice Department and Criminal Investigation Department officials who filed the charges are now being prosecuted for allegedly fabricating evidence.

China has been a large source of funding for Rajapaksa projects, as well as state assistance to the family, which has aided their authoritarianism.

As a result of the no-revenue-generating, non-concessional, non-transparent, and unsolicited “infrastructure” projects, Rajapaksa has racked up massive debts that have led to a dire economic climate in Sri Lanka.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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