Diesel fuel crisis adds to Egypt’s cocktail of political, economic woes

by FoxNews.com  |  published on March 12, 2013

diesel crisis

At 5:00 am, Egyptian truck driver Allam Mahmoud hurried to a Cairo gas station and joined an already long, snaking line. He says he hopes that by the end of the day, he can get his tank filled with diesel.

For several months, Egyptians have been hit by shortages of diesel, the main fuel that truckers, bus drivers, farmers, bakers and a range of industries rely on to keep their engines running. The diesel crisis is now not only adding to the country’s economic problems, it’s feeding the turmoil on the streets.

“Haven’t seen a crisis like this before,” the 46-year-old Mahmoud said, still waiting at noon Monday for a chance to fill up. “People are asleep in their homes and we are here waiting to refuel.”
Now for many the long waits at gas stations are becoming unbearable.

On Sunday, hundreds of drivers of trucks and of minibuses used as public transport blocked most of Cairo’s vital roads and bridges, as well as highways across the country in an angry protest over the shortages, forcing some students and government employees to even resort to donkey carts to commute.

Frequently tempers flared. In Cairo, striking drivers smashed windows of private cars when commuters complained about the road blockages. In Giza, across the Nile, fist-fights broke out and knives were drawn between protesting drivers and other drivers who refused to join their strike. In the southern city of Assiut, striking and non-striking drivers pelted each other with stones.

The drivers’ backlash adds to a wave of unrest across the country, with protesters against the Islamist president frequently clashing with police and some police units themselves launching their own strikes and protests in many areas.

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