After running out of supplies, Sri Lanka appealed to the private sector to let workers to work from home and declared a two-week suspension of all petroleum sales outside of vital services on Monday.
According to government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana, “no gasoline would be sold from midnight today save from for critical services like the health sector, since we want to conserve the small supplies we have.”
He expressed remorse to the public for the hardship the shortages had caused: “We regret the people’s trouble.”
Since late last year, Sri Lanka has been unable to finance even the most basic goods, such as fuel, food, and medications. This is the country’s biggest economic crisis since it gained independence in 1948.
In addition, there have been protracted power outages and record-high inflation in the nation, which have all led to months of sometimes violent rallies demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Due to the severe fuel crisis and lack of funding for imports last week, all public schools were closed and state institutions ran on a minimal workforce.
Originally scheduled to end this week, the state sector stoppage will now last until July 10, when Gunawardana has agreed to resume gasoline deliveries. Additionally, the government is urging the business sector to do the same.
A day after Colombo announced that a token system will be used to regulate the distribution of its limited gasoline supplies, the surprise news was made.
The few pumping stations that still had supply had enormous lines outside of them.
The island was experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis earlier this month, and the United Nations launched an emergency response to feed thousands of pregnant women who were experiencing food shortages.
According to the UN, who has issued a serious humanitarian crisis alert and warned that millions of people in Sri Lanka are in need of relief, four out of five individuals have started missing meals because they cannot afford to eat.
Sri Lanka is negotiating a rescue with the International Monetary Fund after falling behind on its $51 billion foreign debt in April.