Yangon hit by fuel shortage

Lining up early: Motorists queuing up to fill their vehicles at a petrol station in Yangon amid fuel shortages in the area. — AFP

Yangon, the country’s commercial hub, is facing a fuel shortage, said residents and junta-controlled media, with hundreds of vehicles queuing up at dawn in hopes of securing petrol.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the shortage begun on Tuesday and was “due to delays in oil delivery from Thilawa Port to filling stations” without providing further detail. Most of Yangon’s fuel arrives through the port, but the local kyat currency has plunged against the dollar since the military seized power in 2021, hitting importers’ ability to pay for fuel shipments.Dozens of cars and motorbikes lined up in the early morning in Yangon. In Bago region north of Yangon, some stations were limiting sales to 20 litres per customer, an AFP correspondent said.

“We closed for a week because of shortages and just opened this morning,” said an attendant at a petrol pump in Phayargyi, about 75km north of Yangon.

“Even though we have petrol now, it will run out soon because many cars and motorcycles are coming to us as other stations nearby are closed,” they said, asking not to give their name.

Myanmar’s economy has tanked since the coup, which sparked huge pro-democracy protests that were crushed by a military crackdown. Dozens of “People’s Defence Forces” have since sprung up across the country to fight the junta, with regular clashes across swathes of the country.

Earlier this year, the World Bank said Myanmar’s GDP was projected to increase by 3% in the year to September 2023, still around 10% lower than in 2019.

“Severe supply and demand constraints” continue to hamper economic activity, it said.

In late October, an alliance of ethnic minority armed groups launched an offensive against the military across northern Shan State near the border with China, Myanmar’s biggest trade partner.

The alliance has captured one key border crossing and blocked roads leading to several others, denying the cash-strapped junta tax and foreign exchange.

Last week, fighting in the east briefly blocked another key trade highway to neighbouring Thailand. — AFP

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