SYRIA: Severe fuel crisis in regime-controlled areas

Over the past several days, North Press Agency conducted a series of interviews with taxi drivers in Syrian regime territory struggling to maintain their livelihood in the face of widespread gasoline shortages.

In Holob (Aleppo), taxi drivers said they were starting to think about looking for other lines of work because it was becoming too difficult to get enough gasoline for their taxis.

Ali Atrash, a Holob taxi driver with five children, stated he only works five hours a day because that’s all his allotment of 10 liters of gasoline will allow. “I cannot secure gas every day because of the overcrowding that forces me to spend nearly an entire day between gas stations to get only 10 liters in the end,” Atrash told North Press Agency.

The management of the State-owned fuel company Sadcob in Halob declined to comment on the lack of gasoline in the city to North Press Agency.

Queues of cars and bicycles line the streets outside gas stations who have been receiving their shipments late.

Yamen Alouni, who lives near a fuel station in the village of Hmeimim in the Jableh region, told North Press that a percentage of the gasoline sent to some stations wind up on the black market. “There are gasoline owners who have been smuggling fuel to neighboring areas in Hama and Idlib for months.” Alouni added that, “the station is opened for a few hours when there are monitoring committees, and then it is closed and the remaining quantities are traded, and gasoline sellers can be seen on the roads and in more than one city.”

According to a source in the Ministry of Oil in Daramsuq (Damascus), the amount of gasoline allotted per private car has been reduced from 40 liters to 30 liters, until more gasoline is available.

In As-Suwayda, already the site of recent anti-regime protests, there is growing resentment about the gas shortage.

Nayil Sharafeldin, an engineer from the city of Shahba, said to North Press that what is most difficult to accept is seeing gas stations empty and plenty of gas for sale by the roadside at higher prices.

“What upsets me most is the link between local vendors and owners of gas stations, with the support of government officials, who are beneficiaries from it in the city of Suwayda,” said Sharafeldin.