VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): As people across the country grapple with the fallout of a severe fuel crisis, a member the Lao Fuel and Gas Association said on Wednesday that oil supplies purchased by importers are expected to arrive in Laos next week.
The Lao Fuel and Gas Association has called on all concerned parties to help resolve the fuel crisis. The crisis continues to affect people around the country despite several steps taken by the authorities to address it.
The President of the Lao Fuel and Gas Association, Mr Sysangkhom Khotnhotha, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that several emergency meetings have been held to find solutions to the fuel shortage.
He said the continuing fuel shortage has led to the closure of many petrol stations in Laos. Among the factors contributing to the crisis are the strong US dollar and Thai baht.
Long queues stretching out into major roads were witnessed in several cities in recent days, as motorists drove from one pump to another to fill their tanks. The depreciation of the local currency has resulted in importers being unable to purchase adequate amounts of fuel, local people said.
The Lao Farmers Network recently pleaded for assistance and expressed concerns that agricultural producers won’t be able to access enough fuel to plow their fields or water their crops. The steadily rising petrol prices are visibly affecting the poor, the Network said.
“Yesterday, I spent more than an hour outside a petrol station, waiting to fill up my vehicle’s tank,” one resident said.
Some people said that after being restricted within the country for more than two years because of the pandemic, they will now consider a trip to neighbouring countries to fill up the fuel tanks of their vehicles.
A resident of the capital said that with no solution to the fuel crisis in sight, the reality of the situation should be promptly and clearly communicated to the people. “While the fuel crisis has been framed as only a shortage, the people aren’t so sure,” he said.
Provinces across Laos have witnessed fuel shortages for weeks, and early warning signs came from Luang Namtha, which ran out of fuel in late March. The situation worsened in Pakxe city and Savannakhet province before the problem finally hit Vientiane, according to the ministry of industry and commerce.
People posted on Facebook that the government needs to seek short-term and long-term solutions to the fuel crisis, including ways to access foreign currency desperately needed to bail out fuel importers.
They said authorities must come up with new strategies for the future that are in line with the socio-economic situation.