ECONOMYNEXT – Two people died in separate fuel queues in Sri Lanka on Thursday, June 16, reports said, bringing the cash-strapped country’s fuel or cooking gas queue death toll to 10.
In the early hours of Thursday, a 53-year-old man took his last breath waiting for hours at a filling station in Wekada petrol shed in Panadura, south of the capital Colombo.
According to reports, Upali, a father of three who drove a three-wheeler taxi, a popular profession among lower-income families in the island’s suburbs and elsewhere, had been waiting in two queues for almost a day without a proper meal to pump fuel.
Videos circulating on social media showed fellow three-wheel drivers saying Upali had been upset that he was unable to earn enough to fend for his family as he had to waste hours in fuel queues at least twice a day.
People who had been in the queue with him said the Panandura hospital didn’t have an ambulance at that time and the one ambulance available was stuck in Bambalapitya in Colombo, while the police emergency hotline 911 had been of no use as they never turned up at the scene.
Upali was taken to the hospital only after half an hour he was found unconscious, and his distraught son was informed while he himself was stuck in another fuel queue to fill his bike, media reports said.
In Pugoda, Gampaha, a man was found lying dead not more than 50 metres away from the cooking gas outlet. Witnesses say they saw him carrying his cylinder in a wheel borrower.
As the island’s foreign exchange situation worsened, the country has been reporting commodity queue deaths since April 28.
The country’s condition is said to worsen in the coming days, mainly as the last fuel shipment from an Indian credit line arrived on Thursday.
Queue lengths have almost tripled to what was seen the previous weeks, and as frustrations swell, analysts have expressed fears of the situation worsening. (Colombo/Jun16/2022)