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Cars Queue in the Streets of Damascus and Its Surroundings

Cars Queue in the Streets of Damascus and Its Surroundings

Wednesday, 7 April, 2021 - 12:00
Vehicles queue for petrol at a gas station in Damascus, Syria, February 19, 2017. Picture taken February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The streets of the Syrian capital these days reflect the extent of poverty that the majority of the people have reached, the blatant exploitation they are exposed to, the decline in the prestige of the government, and the prevailing chaos.

As long queues of cars flocked on the roads awaiting their turn to the petrol stations, the government in state-controlled areas issued a new mechanism, but without meeting the people’s needs.

About 90 percent of residents living within government-controlled areas live below the poverty line. Hunger increases day after day, with families’ monthly incomes continuing to lose a large part of their value, due to the sharp collapse of the Syrian pound against the US dollar.

The majority of citizens live under very poor conditions due to the severe rise in prices, especially foodstuffs, which have increased 33 times. The Syrian pound fell to SYP 3,500 against the dollar, after it was about SYP 50 before 2011.

The average monthly salary of public sector employees does not currently exceed USD 20, and private sector employees USD 50, while the salary of a government employee before the war years was about USD 600.

The past days saw a decline in the number of cars in the streets of Damascus due to a severe shortage of petrol and diesel, while long queues of vehicles waited before petrol stations. On Monday, the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources issued a decision announcing “the start of the implementation of a new mechanism for the distribution of gasoline based on a SMS system,” according to which registered citizens will receive messages on their mobile phones about the station they should head to and the validity period.

But since the announcement of the new mechanism, citizens have been trying to register their mobile phone numbers, but the relevant application seems not to be functioning properly.

“I tried hundreds of times and the application failed to open. All my relatives and friends had the same problem,” a resident told Asharq Al-Awsat.

In this regard, an economic expert told Asharq Al-Awsat that the main problem was not in the distribution mechanism, but that the government did no longer have fuel and the scene of long queues has become a source of embarrassment.

“With the new decision, [the government] put an end to those queues, and car owners have to wait in vain for messages…” the expert said.

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