On Wednesday, November 27, gas stations decided to declare an open strike. The owners’ union declared that it will start an open-ended strike Thursday morning “all over Lebanon.”
The Union stated that this decision was taken “in view of the extent of the extensive losses suffered by the sector,” as a result of losses from the high cost of procuring the dollar on the black market, which they depend on to import fuel.
The union pointed out that it “lingered a lot before the announcement of this major step.” They waited to set a date with the President but there were no efforts done in order to explain the problems they are facing.
The value of the Lebanese pound in the parallel market, the sole source of the dollar for most importers since the protests erupted, has plunged by about 40 percent below the official rate.
The central bank was supposed to give it a priority, giving the union currency reserves to finance the purchase of fuel and other important materials, like wheat and medicine.
Lebanon’s Ministry of Energy was supposed to launch a government tender for gasoline next month but the fuel importers threatened to raise prices. In regard to the promises made by the now-caretaker Prime Minister and the Ministries of Energy and Economy, none were kept.
There were no actions taken to protect their interests. The union apologizes in advance to the citizens for the problems that they will face during this period and claim that they are suffering from injustice as well.
Some stations already closed since Wednesday. As soon as the union announced the open strike date, Lebanese all over Lebanon rushed to the stations to refuel. The traffic jams in front of all stations all over Lebanon were apparent.
This rush is not the first of its kind these few months. The authorities are totally neglecting the country and its needs. The caretaker government is not even caretaking. If this neglect continues jams will be seen everywhere and for everything. Maybe we should bang louder, so they can hear the people.