By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 10 December 2013:
Police and army units have been deployed at petrol stations in the capital in a . . .[restrict]bid to end the fuel crisis which was threatening to paralyse the city. The move was ordered by the government with the support of Tripoli Local Council and the petrol station companies.
Most petrol stations in the capital had closed in the past couple of days after staff at a number of them had been attacked by angry armed car drivers who had in many cases been waiting up to six hours hours to buy fuel. The chaos was the result of panic buying set off by unfounded rumours that the refinery at Zawia had stopped production. In fact, there has been no shortage of petrol or diesel at all according to Fathi Al-Hashmi, spokesman for Brega Oil and Marketing, the state-owned distribution company.
At a petrol station in Gurji in west Tripoli yesterday, fighting between drivers and pump attendants ended with the latter cutting petrol pump pipes and closing the station. At least one person was reported killed in another petrol rage argument. In most cases, the fighting was caused mainly by queue jumpers.
The crisis, which has seen queues at petrol stations were stretching hundreds of metres, has resulted a noticeable drop in traffic on the roads and taxi prices at least double. Drivers have heading as far as Khoms in the east and Zawia and Sabratha in the west in search of petrol.
Today’s move followed yesterday’s announcement by the government that 15 petrol stations in various neighborhoods of the capital had been selected by the Ministries of Oil and Gas and of the Interior and to remain open 24 hours a day selling fuel.
The Libya Herald visited 14 of the 15 stations this afternoon and found all of them closed with chains across the forecourt entrances. Outside, however, there were cars waiting in queues hoping for the station to re-open.
Vehicles were still waiting across the capital this evening when the problems was compounded by power cuts. The petrol station in Shara Saidi was closed because of pumps were not working. There was no visible military or police presence. But there was a queue of vehicles over a kilometre long waiting for the power to come back on. In Zaiwiat Al-Dahmani, the queue was much shorter, but there was a police unit on standby waiting for the station to reopen.
The main petrol station on the city’s Swani Road was reported working this evening as a result of the police presence and the authorities have promised that at least 22 stations should be open as usual tomorrow.
With input from Taziz Hasairi, Aimen Eljali and Ahmed Elumami. [/restrict]