Fuel sector strike shuts Lebanese gas stations as cash dollars run dry

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A gas station closes during a protest agains tight supply of dollars in Beirut, Lebanon September 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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A gas station closes during a protest agains tight supply of dollars in Beirut, Lebanon September 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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A gas station closes during a protest agains tight supply of dollars in Beirut, Lebanon September 18, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 19 September 2019

Fuel sector strike shuts Lebanese gas stations as cash dollars run dry

  • Gas station owners said the walkout was to highlight their “material losses resulting from the dollar exchange rate”
  • On some forecourts, station owners held up pump hoses in protest over losses resulting from a national shortage of cash dollars

BEIRUT: Motorists in Lebanon on Wednesday found the majority of gas stations closed due to a one-day strike by fuel sector companies and workers.
On some forecourts, station owners held up pump hoses in protest over losses resulting from a national shortage of cash dollars.
Fuel in Lebanon is normally purchased from import companies and suppliers in US dollars and sold in Lebanese pounds. But the country’s banks have been holding back from handing out large sums of the currency in hard cash.
The warning strike involved import, distribution and tanker companies as well as gas stations selling petroleum products, and according to the National News Agency (NNA) received 97 percent support.
Gas station owners said the walkout was to highlight their “material losses resulting from the dollar exchange rate.”
In the absence of dollars in large quantities in Lebanese banks, many fuel dealers have had to turn to exchange houses which sell dollars at rates of up to 1,550 Lebanese pounds, above the official exchange rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds.
Economist Jassem Ajaka blamed the situation on international sanctions imposed on Hezbollah. He told Arab News: “The problem is not a dollar shortage in Lebanon, but the fact that it is being used as cash money.”
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that “the siege and economic sanctions imposed on Lebanon do not affect certain persons or category, nor do they affect the resistance, as some believe, but they impact all the Lebanese people.”
Ajaka added: “In France, for instance, when the amount exceeds $500 (SR1,875), they request receiving it by bank transfer or an ATM card. In Lebanon, there is no restraint, and people prefer to use cash money. As a result of the increased sanctions, a certain development forced banks to abstain from giving large amounts of cash money.
“Lebanon has a surplus of the hard currency, and the Central Bank declared a week ago that it has deposits of $1.4 billion. Thus, there is no problem in the dollar matter. People should get accustomed to bank transfers.”
Lebanese MP Bilal Abdallah objected to the strike, arguing on social media that it was “unacceptable that Lebanese citizens are victims of the dollar game between oil companies, gas stations and banks.”
He tweeted: “With whom and against whom is the strike? Your companies and stations reap profits from citizens, whom you force to wait and whom you give anxiety. This is shameful. Where is the State and the bodies concerned with the protection of peoples’ rights?”


UAE examines thousands for COVID-19, opens new drive-through test facilities

Updated 53 min 35 sec ago

UAE examines thousands for COVID-19, opens new drive-through test facilities

  • The UAE has tested 40,000 people in the last two days for COVID-19
  • There have been a further 13 drive-through test facilities opened in the UAE

DUBAI: The UAE has tested more than 40,000 people for the coronavirus in the last two days, the Ministry of Health and Prevention confirmed on Sunday.

The continued increase in tests led to the detection of 331 new cases in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in the UAE to 2,990.

The number of fatalities has increased after the death of two people - both who had pre-existing health conditions - bringing the death toll to 14, the ministry added.

Meanwhile there have been more people recovering from COVID-19, the latest being 29 people making a full recovery, bring that total to 268.

The UAE continues to open drive-through testing facilities in the country.

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA, opened 13 of the new faciltities.

“In collaboration with our strategic partners across the UAE, SEHA has equipped all drive-through centers with the most advanced testing systems, techniques and globally-accredited health care teams,” said Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer, SEHA, Rashid Al-Qubaisi.

He said that all centers were equipped with the latest in testing systems and medical devices.

“There are 630 of the most experienced and qualified medical professionals from SEHA’s network, staffing the centers,” he added.

The test at the drive-through facilities take five minutes.

There are seven drive-through testing centers have opened, so far, in Abu Dhabi, with three in Abu Dhabi City, Al Wathba and Al Bahia – they are open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., from Sunday to Thursday.

There are also two in Al Ain in the Asharj and Al Hili areas.

People can book an appointment through the SEHA hotline on 800 1717 or alternatively the SEHA smartphone app.

Both callers and users of the app be asked a series of questions to help evaluate their condition, and then given an appointment for a test.

Al-Qubaisi said priority will be given to people exhibiting symptoms of the virus, or those most vulnerable to the infection including pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

The test costs $100.