Worsening fuel crisis in Regime-controlled areas | Petrol and diesel available at prohibitively high prices only on black markets in Damascus
Damascus province: Fuel crisis has been deteriorating further throughout areas controlled by the Syrian regime, because of the high demand in light of the currently cold weather and acute shortage of fuels, mainly petrol and diesel, at a time when the regime’s authorities seem indifferent and have failed so far to secure the needs of the residents of fuels. In Damascus, text messages, which inform beneficiaries of the delivery of fuel allowances at petrol stations in order to receive their allocations of fuel, delayed for more than 13 days.
On the other hand, markets in most of areas controlled by the Syrian regime have run out of diesel for no reasons, which led to the current stifling crisis. Diesel is sometimes available on black markets, but it is sold at very high prices, which further burdens civilians.
On the other hand, drivers of public vehicles are struggling with the acute shortage of petrol. Regime authorities have allocated 200 litres of petrol to every car. However, the amount which is actually distributed is 75 litres, after waiting a role for ten days. In an attempt to secure petrol, regime’s Department of Fuel has raised the price of petrol from 27,500 SYP to 62,500 SYP every 25 litres. However, petrol has not been available at petrol stations so far. Ironically, petrol is available on black markets, so civilians find themselves obligated to buy it for prohibitively high prices.
As text messages are delayed for 13 or 14 days, a car owner could not got more than 50 litres of petrol every month. Accordingly, car owners are forced to stop working on their cars or to buy petrol on black markets, which makes them shoulder extra burdens.
On October 11, SOHR published a report which reads, “Most of areas controlled by the Syrian regime are suffering from acute shortage of fuel all year round, which has caused scores of stifling crises, particularly in terms of transportation and heating in winter.
Meanwhile, regime authorities have failed so far to find a workable solution putting an end to this chronic crisis which lasted for years. On the other hand, practices by merchants have exacerbated the situation further, as they pile fuel which arrives sporadically in regime-controlled areas, whether shipments brought from SDF-controlled areas or those which arrive at harbours.
Moreover, fuel allowances are looted by distributors and officials responsible for distributing these allowances to eligible civilians.
Such practices have triggered a state of disappointment and discontent among the residents. In this context, civilians in Homs province have complained of the shortage of fuel and the return of congestion in front of petrol stations, where civilians have to wait in long lines for hours, and days on some occasions, in order to get only a few litres of diesel at a very high price.
SOHR has monitored and tracked the latest developments of the fuel crisis in Homs province, where Observatory activists have confirmed that fuel allowances are looted by employees and officials responsible for distributing fuel to civilians. According to SOHR sources, five litres of a total amount of subsidised fuel of 100 litres, which are distributed to civilians in two batches via smart cards, are seized by distributors, amid lack of monitoring by relevant authorities which are, on many occasions, partners of looting. On the other hand, the residents are unable to express their objection of the distributors’ practices.
Speaking to SOHR, a civilian from Al-Khalidiyah neighbourhood in Homs says “distributors in all petrol station rig meters of fuel pumps. Accordingly, they can steal three to five litres in every time when smart cards are used. The amount of fuel looted from eligible civilians is shared with members of security stations working in every petrol station, as a bribe paid in order to turn a blind eye to the violations committed against civilians. A barrel of diesel on black markets is sold for 1,500,000 SYP, as the price of a litre has reached 7,000 SYP.”
According to SOHR sources, sufferings of Homs residents escalate further in winters, as some civilians find themselves obligated to sell their diesel allowances to cover their expenses. Accordingly, they turn to primitive methods for heating, such as using fire logs. It is worth noting that the price of fire logs has reached one million Syrian ponds a ton.
Looting of fuel by distributors, backed by security services in regime-controlled areas, and selling it in illegal ways and on black markets, further burdening the residents who face challenges to secure a few amounts of petrol, diesel and other oil products. These practices have also affected the energy sector and led to increasing electricity rationing hours.”