Egypt’s weeks-long fuel shortage markedly declined on Sunday, amid a combination of government supply efforts and the nationwide emptying of streets in anticipation of mass protests.
Long queues at petrol stations, which were emblematic of the crisis, were curtailed dramatically on Sunday, highlighting a temporary reprieve from the crisis, if not a definitive improvement.
The Ministry of Petroleum has so far supplied more than 3,000 tonnes of petrol and 2,200 tonnes of diesel in the capital, state-run news agency MENA cited Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, head of the Supply Directorate in Cairo. Abdel Aziz added that nine petrol stations which had refused the sale of petrol would face legal questioning, with three others already having their licenses confiscated on the same charge.
Hossam Arafat, the head of the Petroleum Resources Division in the Chamber of Commerce, explained that this quantity will not satisfy the needs of the Egyptian public for long, adding that the country “consumes 15,000 tonnes of petrol on a daily basis.”
“Talking about supplying [petrol for] today [has little] value; what will happen after today is the more important factor,” he said.
The fuel crisis peaked last week when traffic across the city was paralysed by snaking lines of motorists at petrol stations as they waited for hours for petrol delivery trucks. This added to a growing sense of frustration among the public, as many prepare for protests against President Mohamed Morsi.
Reflecting the change since last week, users on Bey2ollah, a smartphone application that delivers traffic and petrol news, reported stocked petrol stations without queues in Heliopolis, Nasr City, Mohandessin, Downtown and Zamalek on Sunday.
Streets appeared almost vacant, with Tamarod and opposition demonstrators filling up Tahrir Square and heading to the presidential palace, while supporters of the government remained at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and nearby areas.