Sri Lanka’s government has suspended fuel sales for private vehicles and urged people to work from home to save fuel as the country’s economic crisis continues unresolved.
Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena said on Monday that fuel will only be sold for essential services, such as public transportation, health, food, and export industries, among others.
"From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have," Gunawardena told reporters.
Gunawardena said that all schools in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, would be closed for two weeks, while workers in non-essential industries were urged to work from home to conserve fuel.
Inter-provincial transport services will also be suspended to reduce the consumption of fuel in Sri Lanka, the minister said.
“If there are people queuing up at filling stations, the security forces including the army, air force, navy, and police will be deployed at every filling station from [June 27] to give everyone in the queues a token in the order they are queuing up,” Wijesekera said.
Sri Lanka Eyeing Russian oilSri Lanka is in talks with Russia on possible direct fuel supplies, despite Western sanctions imposed against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Two Sri Lankan ministers left for Russia on Monday to acquire fuel from Moscow.
“There is an advantage for us if we could buy oil directly from the Russian government of the Russian firms. There are talks going on,” Wijesekera told reporters on June 26.
He noted that Sri Lanka bought a 90,000-metric-ton shipment of Russian crude last month to restart its only refinery.
Hundreds Attempt to Flee Sri LankaMore than 300 Sri Lankans attempted to flee to Australia in the past few weeks due to the country’s economic turmoil that has left millions of its people in need of life-saving aid.
The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, with its foreign exchange reserves plummeting by 70 percent in the past two years. The government said that it is unable to pay $7 billion in foreign debt due this year, and has sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
The maturity period for Beijing's loan at 18 years is also shorter than for Japan's 34 years.
Thousands of Sri Lankans have taken to the streets to protest the government’s mishandling of the country’s economic crisis, leading to the resignation of then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 9.