Colombo, May 21: For the past several weeks, serpentine queues at petrol stations and cooking gas outlets have been a common sight in Colombo and other towns in Sri Lanka, graphically depicting a severe shortage of these essentials.
Men and women, young and old, stand in mile-long queues in hundreds of places for cooking gas cylinders, petrol, diesel and kerosene, which have been in short supply for weeks now, despite a steady stream of emergency supplies from neighboring India.
A three-wheeler (tuk tuk) driver told a Xinhua reporter that he often has to stand in the queue for five hours or more to get about 7 litres of petrol.
“I drive my vehicle for a day and join the queue the next day,” he said stoically.
This has severely hit his daily earnings. Drivers try to make up for the loss inflicted by loss of work and the higher cost of fuel by asking passengers to pay more, even double the normal fare, at times.
Tuk tuks are also difficult to come in Colombo these days because of the petrol shortage. As a result, people are venturing out less.
The government has asked its non-essential employees to stay at home given the transport issues. The number of buses on the roads is also manifestly less.
Daily wage workers are the worst hit by the lack of transport. Traders charge more as transport is an issue.
On Saturday the police announced that raids would be conducted from Sunday onwards to catch those who hoard fuel and sell them at exorbitant prices.
Women are conspicuous in queues at cooking gas outlets. Here too they have to wait for long hours, come rain or shine.
As in the case petrol and diesel, cooking gas prices have shot up so much that those who can use facilities to use firewood and have access to it, have switched to firewood.
Electric ovens are also being used by some but the long and daily power cuts have reduced their usability.
Text: newsin.asia/Photos: Ajith Perera and Tang Lu/Xinhua