| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Scandal hits gas stations as Lebanon faces fuel crisis

Long queues of Lebanese citizens’ vehicles snaking around gas stations have been spotted across the country with some regions being affected more than others by a fuel crisis.

Villages and towns in Bint Jbeil district, for instance, have been facing a fuel crisis since two weeks, local media and eyewitnesses have reported, noting that residents there get to fill their vehicles with gasoline at a maximum price of 20,000 to 30,000 Lebanese pounds.

Citizens have expressed their discontent with “the humiliation they are living each time they wanted to obtain their most basic rights to live in dignity.”

“Some gas stations are alleging that they have empty fuel tanks while they work at night on selling one can of gasoline for more than 60,000 LBP,” they said.

Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister on Thursday blamed the country’s fuel crisis on profiteers who smuggle gasoline into neighboring Syria.

At a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue, Raymond Ghajar said the gap in gasoline prices between the two countries meant smugglers could make huge profits.

“The price of 20 liters of gasoline in Lebanon is 40,000 Lebanese pounds while the official price in Syria stands at 140,000 Syrian pounds and at 240,000 in the black market,” Ghajar said in a cabinet statement.

“The Syrian market’s needs for gasoline drive Lebanese smugglers to sneak gasoline into Syria to achieve huge profits.”

Lebanon is in the throes of a deep financial crisis which is posing the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Caretaker finance minister Ghazi Wazni warned earlier this month that Lebanon would run out of money to fund basic imports like fuel and wheat by the end of May.

In neighboring Syria, where the economy is also collapsing under the weight of a decade of conflict and Western sanctions, there have also been frequent fuel shortages in government-controlled areas.