Clashes over fuel shortage in Egypt

The crisis resulting from the shortage of fuel and butane gas cylinders escalated on Tuesday, with taxi drivers blocking roads and people staging protests in various governorates.

In Sohag, taxi drivers blocked a railway and set fire to the signals, completely halting train movement in both directions, and the residents blocked the Akhmim Bridge that connects the east and the west of the city. They also threatened to storm the governor’s office if he did not solve the crisis, prompting him to call security services for protection.

Altercations took place between drivers and gas station employees in Fayoum. Both sides fought with knives but no injuries were reported. When the drivers threatened to set fire to the station, the police had to intervene and regulate the distribution of fuel among the cars.

In Minya, scores of people protested the shortage and blocked the roads, demanding that government officials resolve the problem. In Kafr al-Sheikh, cars queued in front of gas stations, obstructing traffic in the city, while in Beheira people clashed with taxi drivers for raising their tariffs.

The Solidarity and Domestic Trade Ministry held the Petroleum Ministry responsible for the fuel shortages, saying the Domestic Trade Ministry’s role is only regulatory.

Fathi Abdel Aziz, head of the control and distribution department in the Domestic Trade Ministry, said the ministry on Monday demanded that the Petroleum Ministry provide the market with additional quantities of diesel fuel and butane gas cylinders, while the Domestic Trade Ministry gave instructions to tighten control over gas stations so as not to leak fuel to the black market.

Ahmed Abdel Ghaffar of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce said the cumulative shortage on cylinders has declined by 40 percent. “But the price of a cylinder is still high on the black market, as it hit LE50,” he said, adding that the original price is no more than LE6 per cylinder.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation said the crisis is only in some areas and not all over the country. “We have not decreased our supply of diesel and gasoline,” said Amr Mostafa, vice president of the authority, explaining that the problem lies in the distribution and not in the production or the importing of fuel.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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