Several Lebanese Regions See Massive Protests over Power Cuts, Fuel Shortage
Lebanon’s gas station owners, representatives of fuel distributors and generator owners in the Beqaa cut off on Saturday the Baalbak-Homs international highway against the government’s failure to provide fuel and diesel while protests in several regions protested the intermittent power cuts that reached up to 20 hours per day.
The country's electricity company and the powerful operators of generators had been rationing power since late June as fuel supplies dwindle amid uncertainty over the next shipment.
On Saturday, Head of Syndicates of Gas Station Owners Sami Brax called on President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and other concerned officials to “provide gas stations with diesel and to force companies to distribute fuel to gas stations and clients.”
He called on the security forces to inspect the reservoirs of fuel companies and gas stations and to take measures against monopoly suppliers.
Brax also asked the Energy Minister to work on fairly distributing diesel from the Tripoli and Zahrani facilities in a way that reaches all consumers equally.
“The Ministry should examine the large quantity of diesel sold in the black market,” he said.
In Nabatiyeh, demonstrators gathered outside the electricity company to protest the intermittent power cuts.
They delivered a letter to the director-general of the company, Wahib Qteish, demanding electricity as an acquired right.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s news agency said hundreds of activists marched Saturday from Riad El Solh Square in downtown Beirut towards the Association of Banks, and then to the Central Bank of Lebanon on Hamra Street, carrying Lebanese flags and banners affirming their continued movement until their demands are met.
Demonstrators chanted slogans condemning the country's economic and daily-living situation, calling for the "resignation of the government" and "holding the thieves and the corrupt accountable, recovering the looted money, and conducting early parliamentary elections."
Lebanon has been shaken by a severe economic and financial crisis, made worse in recent months by the coronavirus and lockdown restrictions. The financial crisis features a collapse of the local currency, which lost more than 80% of its value, and severe shortage of dollars — dramatically impacting the country’s ability to import basic goods.
Fuel imports are subsidized, but lack of foreign currency was making it harder to secure resources.