Sri Lanka ordered the army to arrive at petrol stations on Tuesday as sporadic protests broke out between thousands of motorists lining up daily over scarce fuel.
The South Asian island nation is grappling with its worst economic recession in more than seven decades, with power outages protracted and staples such as food and gas in short supply.
Government spokesman Ramesh Pathirana said soldiers were deployed after angry mobs blocked a main road in Colombo and blocked traffic for hours because they were unable to buy kerosene on Monday.
Footage of the incident shared on social media shows a group of angry women blocking a tourist van to protest against a shortage of kerosene needed for cooking stoves
Pathirana told reporters in the capital: “We see tourists being held back, we also heard that some people might be hoarding oil and that’s why the government decided to deploy troops. team”.
The call to action also followed the fatal stabbing of a motorcyclist by another motorist after contesting his position in a long gas line outside Colombo.
A top defense official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity: “The fireplaces are becoming cluttered as the queues get longer.”
“A decision was made last night to call in soldiers to reinforce the police. This is to prevent any unrest.”
Three elderly people have died at gas stations since Saturday, police said, adding that many gas stations had seen people camp out overnight waiting to buy diesel and gasoline. .
Military officials say troops are deployed at the pumping stations of the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which accounts for two-thirds of the fuel retail business in the nation of 22 million people.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office announced a summit meeting of all political parties on Wednesday to discuss the economic crisis, but opposition groups said they plan to boycott the meeting. .
Sri Lanka’s financial crisis stemmed from a severe foreign currency shortage that made it impossible for traders to finance imports.
The Covid-19 pandemic has choked the island’s tourism industry – a major source of foreign exchange – and remittances from Sri Lankans working abroad have also plummeted.
Rajapaksa announced last week that the country would seek a bailout from the IMF, which said the government’s $51 billion foreign debt burden was unsustainable.
On Tuesday, the government announced that it was seeking to restructure the debt and was seeking an international law firm to advise on the legal implications.
Foreign exchange shortages have devastated almost every aspect of daily life, with authorities last week postponing semester tests for millions of students because of paper and ink shortages.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)