Diesel shortage brings services to a halt
The diesel shortage caused a nationwide, week-long halt in the garbage collection system, as all the vehicles used for the service run on diesel. Also, some hospitals and almost all government institutions were unable to procure fuel for electricity generators, leading to severe operational problems.
Urban citizens who use power generators in response to regular power cuts in the national grid remained in the dark.
“The main problem is the diesel pricing,” Minister of Trade and Industry Hisham Sharaf told the Yemen Times. “The government is incurring huge losses because of the diesel subsidies, which reach as high as 70 percent. Now, the government has reached a critical financial point and can’t pay for imported fuel and sell it at such a low price.”
Over 10.8 million liters of diesel is consumed in Yemen every day, with around 1.8 million liters consumed in the capital city of Sana’a. As a side effect of the subsidies, diesel is smuggled outside the country to Djibouti and Somalia or is sold on the black market for double, if not triple, its price of sale.
Similar problems were recently faced because of petrol shortages, of which Yemen consumes around 13.9 million liters a day. The government was in debt and unable to provide fuel and as a direct result, a fuel crisis occurred. However, when the subsidies were lifted and fuel was sold at an internationally regulated price, the problem was resolved.
“It will be the responsibility of the coalition government to finalize the price of diesel soon so that Yemen recovers from this financial problem,” said the minister.
Abdulwahab Sabra, deputy of the city maintenance sector for Sana’a Municipality, said it needs at least 10,000 liters of diesel a day to operate the 4,000 garbage collection and handling machines and vehicles in the capital city alone. The sector usually receives 50,000 liters every five days or so.
“We have a problem getting the allocated fuel from the Ministry of Oil and recently it was not coming at all, so we needed to buy diesel directly from the oil company in Aden,” he said.
Further obstacles hamper such alternatives, as bandits regularly hijack fuel containers traveling from Aden, leading to nationwide fuel problems.
“We are not given any extra quantities and so don't have reserves. When there is a scarcity, our operations are halted – as you have seen recently,” said Sabra.
He added that the capital produces over 1,200 tons of garbage every day. “You can imagine how much rubbish is piled up when we can’t collect garbage for a few days, which definitely causes an environmental problem.”
Regarding subsidies, providers of resources such as water, city maintenance, and bread bakeries are supposed to be exempted from diesel price increases. There has, however, been an increase in price for such providers, from YR 50 to YR 120 per liter.