BEIRUT: Lebanon is witnessing shortages in medicines, fuel and other basic goods, with long lines forming outside petrol stations on Thursday.
The country has been grappling with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has seen the local currency collapse and banks clamp down on withdrawals and money transfers.
Ongoing political contacts have not reached a breakthrough to end the stalemate on forming the government.
As protests against living conditions continued on Thursday, streets in Beirut turned into a large parking lot, with queues near gas stations as people filled their tanks with gasoline.
Some drivers spent all night in their cars.
Information, meanwhile, spread on social media platforms that “the petroleum price may be reaching LBP140,000 ($93) based on the dollar exchange rate in the black market and the price of oil barrels at the moment.”
The dollar exchange rate in the black market increased on Thursday, reaching LBP14,750 against the dollar.
Walid Dib, head of the fuel companies’ workers and users syndicate, warned that the “oil and gas sector is nearing collapse next week when the companies’ reserves run out.”
He added: “It is weird how officials and decision-makers lack interest in that, and no decisions are taken by those responsible for the file in order to put an end to the crisis.”
Gas stations’ tanks have been constantly low on subsidized gasoline for weeks, but shortages reached a new depth on Thursday as people’s fears of rationing and shortages intensified, leading to a large number of gas stations closing down.
The gas station owners’ syndicate urged the government and Banque du Liban (BDL) “to clearly announce their policies in this sector and be frank with us and the people about what they truly want to do.”
This new crisis — adding to the many calamities facing the Lebanese — is dangerous, as it affects Lebanon’s service system and all of its sectors, with the latest being the shortage in fuel to operate power plants two days ago.
MP Michel Daher, who withdrew from Gebran Bassil’s bloc last year, expressed his fear of “the fuel crisis leading to an industrial and agricultural disaster.”
He said that a number of factory owners informed him that they will close down next week due to a shortage in fuel oil, which is still smuggled into Syria.
He noted that “the unavailability of fuel will prevent farmers from irrigation.”