Syria imposes new fuel rations as sanctions bite

Drivers queue for gasoline in front of a petrol station in the Syrian capital Damascus on April 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Syria imposes new fuel rations as sanctions bite

  • Owners of private cars would now be allowed just 20 liters (about 7.5 gallons) of fuel every five days, the ministry said

DAMASCUS: Damascus on Monday imposed new limits on subsidised petrol for cars and motorbikes in regime-held areas of Syria, in the latest bid to curb a fuel crisis it blames on Western sanctions.
Owners of private cars would now be allowed just 20 liters (about 7.5 gallons) of fuel every five days, said the ministry of petroleum and mineral resources.
At petrol stations in the capital, queues hundreds of meters (yards) long have stretched along streets in the past few weeks, with drivers waiting for hours to get their fill.
Qusay, a taxi driver in his 30s, said he had camped out in his car overnight to make sure he got some fuel from a station, so far to no avail.
“I got to the front of the queue after midnight with less than 20 cars ahead, but then the petrol ran out at the station,” he told AFP, adding that “it’s still closed.”
Ahmad Al-Hamawi, 45, gave up after four long hours of waiting.
“I’ll try to forget my car in the coming days and walk to work,” said the radio program director.
The measures announced on Monday allow taxi drivers to fill up 20 liters every two days.
Motorbikes would be permitted three liters every five days, the ministry said, in what it described as a “temporary measure to fairly distribute petrol.”
The measures are the latest in a series of restrictions on the daily consumption of subsidised petrol.
On April 8, the ministry of petrol and mineral resources said it was temporarily slashing the daily cap on subsidised petrol by half, to 20 liters from 40 per vehicle.
Then on April 10 it further halved the amount to 20 liters every two days.
On Sunday, the government said it would halve the amount of fuel allocated to public institutions to run their vehicles, state news agency SANA said.
The petrol crisis follow fuel oil and cooking gas shortages over the winter.
Syrian officials have blamed the crisis on a flurry of Western sanctions targeting the Damascus regime since the start of the civil war in 2011.
In November, the US Treasury issued an advisory threatening penalties against those “involved in petroleum-related shipping transactions with the Government of Syria.”
Prime Minister Emad Khamis told journalists earlier this month that petrol shipments from Iran had been suspended for six months as Egypt was not allowing them through the Suez Canal, an allegation Cairo has denied.
The regime, backed by Iran and Russia, controls almost two-thirds of Syria after a series of victories against rebels and extremists since 2015, but the country’s main oil and gas fields in the northeast remain out of government control.


Samsung Electronics retrieving all Galaxy Fold smartphone samples

Updated 23 April 2019
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Samsung Electronics retrieving all Galaxy Fold smartphone samples

  • The retrieval comes as the world’s biggest smartphone maker met with embarrassment ahead of the foldable device’s US release on April 26
  • Samsung postponed the handset’s launch while it investigated the matter

SEOUL: Samsung is retrieving all Galaxy Fold samples distributed to reviewers to investigate reports of broken screens, a day after it postponed the phone’s launch, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
The retrieval comes as the world’s biggest smartphone maker met with embarrassment ahead of the foldable device’s US release on April 26, with a handful of technology journalists reporting breaks, bulges and blinking screens after a day’s use.
The South Korean tech giant postponed the handset’s launch for an unspecified period of time while it investigated the matter. It said initial findings showed the issues could be associated with impact on exposed areas of the hinges.
A representative declined to comment further on Tuesday.
A person with direct knowledge of the supply chain said KH Vatec conducted an internal review of hinges used in the Galaxy Fold and found no defects. The supplier declined to comment.
In March, Samsung released a video showing robots folding Galaxy Fold handsets 200,000 times for its durability test.
Samsung’s head of IT and mobile communications, DJ Koh, has repeatedly said foldables are the future of smartphones.
Though the issue does not hurt Samsung’s balance sheet, the postponement damages the firm’s effort to showcase itself as an innovative first mover, not a fast follower, analysts said.
In some cases, reviewers had peeled off a layer of film which they mistook for a disposable screen protector.
“It’s disastrous that Samsung sent samples to reviewers without clear instructions on how to handle the device, and that the firm needs to fix screen flickering,” said analyst Kim Young-woo at SK Securities.
One Samsung employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “On the bright side, we have an opportunity to nail down this issue and fix it before selling the phones to a massive audience, so they won’t have same complaints.”
Samsung emailed pre-order customers upon delaying the launch, online outlets said on Twitter.
“Your pre-order guarantees your place in the queue for this innovative technology,” Samsung said in the email. “We’ll update you with more specific shipping information in two weeks.”