Sri Lankan Minister Kanchana Wijesekera

Sri Lanka left with less than a day's worth of fuel: Sri Lankan minister

Most shops were closed on Sunday, with the situation expected to worsen on Monday. (File)


The energy minister said Sri Lanka had less than a day of fuel left on Sunday, with public transport shutting down as the country’s economic crisis deepened.

Queues for petrol and diesel stretched for kilometers through the capital, although most pumping stations had been without fuel for days.

Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the amount of gasoline in the country is about 4,000 tons, just below the value of a day’s consumption.

Wijesekera told reporters in Colombo: “The next shipment is expected to take place from 22 to 23 July (July).

“We have been in contact with other suppliers, but we cannot confirm any new supplies before the 22nd.”

Last week, cash-strapped Sri Lanka announced a two-week halt to all fuel sales except essential services to save petrol and diesel for emergencies.

Most shops were closed on Sunday, with the situation expected to worsen when banks and offices reopen on Monday.

Desperate people were seen trying to flag down some of the vehicles on the road hoping to hitchhike.

Privately owned buses, which make up two-thirds of the country’s fleet, said they operated the skeleton service on Sunday as hard hit by fuel shortages.

“We already operate about 1,000 buses across the country out of the 20,000 owned by members,” said Gemunu Wijeratne, president of the Association of Private Bus Operators.

“The situation is bound to get worse tomorrow because we have no way to get diesel.”

He said services would be further cut back on Monday and there was no immediate solution.

Three-wheeled taxis – a popular last-mile transport – are also not on the streets, with most people queuing all day long to get their six-litre rations of petrol.

A shortage of foreign currency to finance even the most essential imports has led to the country’s worst economic crisis, with 22 million people facing severe hardship on a daily basis.

The country has also faced record inflation and prolonged power outages since late last year.

All government institutions and non-essential schools have been ordered to close until July 10 to minimize travel and save energy.

Local media reported sporadic clashes outside fuel stations.

Last week, the army opened fire to disperse a crowd protesting against the army jumping in line.

Sri Lanka is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout after the country defaulted on an external debt of $51 billion in April.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a collaborative feed.)

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