The supply of petrol for non-essential cars in Sri Lanka has been halted due to the country’s greatest economic crisis in decades.
Only buses, trains, and vehicles intended to deliver food and medical supplies will be permitted to refuel for the next two weeks.
Urban schools were closed, and authorities have ordered the 22 million people who live there to work from home.
The South Asian country is negotiating a rescue arrangement because it finds it difficult to pay for imports like petrol and food.
It is believed to be the first nation in recent years to adopt the extreme measure of stopping gasoline sales to regular people.
Due to the pandemic’s severe economic impact, rising energy costs, and populist tax cuts, Sri Lanka lacks the foreign exchange needed to pay for imports of necessities.
Acute shortages of food, medication, and gasoline have contributed to the country’s record-high cost of living since so many people depend on automobiles for their means of transportation.
The government said on Monday that it will prohibit the purchase of gasoline and diesel for private automobiles until July 10.
Bandula Gunewardena, a spokeswoman for the cabinet, said that Sri Lanka “had never suffered a major economic crisis in its history.”
In an effort to ensure affordable oil supplies, the cash-strapped nation has also despatched representatives to Russia and Qatar, two of the world’s top energy producers.
Officials said over the weekend that the nation only possessed 9,000 tonnes of diesel and 6,000 tonnes of gasoline to power critical services in the coming days.
Under normal demand, it has been predicted that the inventories would only last for a few days.
Kanchana Wijesekera, minister of electricity and energy, told reporters on Sunday, “We are trying all we can to obtain additional stockpiles but we don’t know when that will happen.”
Fuel limitations, according to senior economist Alex Holmes of Oxford Economics, are “yet another little symptom of a growing crisis.”
“Given that there were [large] lines of people waiting for gasoline, mobility looks to have already been severely restricted. However, a total ban on private automobiles goes much farther and will make the economic situation worse “Added he.
For the first time in its history, the nation went into default on its loans to foreign lenders in May.
An IMF delegation visited Sri Lanka last week to hold discussions over a $3 billion (£2.4 billion) rescue package.
Additionally, the administration is requesting aid from China and India in order to import necessities.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, stated earlier this month that the nation need at least $5 billion over the following six months to pay for necessities like food, gasoline, and fertilizer.
Amid worries about a scarcity, the government has also recently urged farmers to increase their rice production and granted government employees an additional day off each week to cultivate crops.