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Exclusive - Syrians Keep themselves Entertained as they Queue up at Gas Stations

Exclusive - Syrians Keep themselves Entertained as they Queue up at Gas Stations

Wednesday, 17 April, 2019 - 06:45
Syrians queue to fill their cars with gasoline at a station in the capital Damascus on April 8, 2019. (AFP)
Damascus - Asharq Al-Awsat

The fuel crisis in Damascus has forced the Syrians to wait in long queues to fill their cars with gas. The Syrians have sought innovative methods to keep themselves entertained as they wait their turn for hours at a time.

Damascus on Monday imposed new limits on subsidized petrol for cars and motorbikes in regime-held areas of Syria, in the latest bid to curb a fuel crisis it blames on Western sanctions.

Owners of private cars would now be allowed just 20 liters (about 7.5 gallons) of fuel every five days, said the ministry of petroleum and mineral resources.

At petrol stations in the capital, queues hundreds of meters (yards) long have stretched along streets in the past few weeks, with drivers waiting for hours to get their fill.

Companies have taken advantage of the lines to promote their products. A nut company dispatched a team at various gas stations, offering free pistachio samples to the people, whose numbers were estimated in the thousands.

A lukum confectioner copied the idea and also set promoters to offer free samples to the long-suffering Syrians. It boasted on Facebook that it was the first such company to offer such samples at gas stations, drawing the ire of the first firm that accused it of stealing its idea.

Anticipating the torturous wait, Syrians packed their food with them as they queued up in line. Others opted to hold a “picnic” on the side of the road as they waited. Some brought their families along for the “ride”. They also brought with them their shisha pipe, deck of cards and a mini fridge packed with all sorts of teas and juices.

Social media users inevitably got involved with several jokes circulating about people having to return to using traditional modes of transport, such as donkeys and horse-drawn carriages.

One citizen joked to Asharq Al-Awsat that it may not be easy to obtain a license and security clearance to ride a donkey. Another joked that riding a donkey may need a “smart card”, similar to the state-issued one to obtain regime rations of fuel.

On April 8, the ministry of petrol and mineral resources said it was temporarily slashing the daily cap on subsidized petrol by half, to 20 liters from 40 per vehicle.

Then on April 10 it further halved the amount to 20 liters every two days.

On Sunday, the regime said it would halve the amount of fuel allocated to public institutions to run their vehicles, state news agency SANA said.

The petrol crisis follows fuel oil and cooking gas shortages over the winter.

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