Gas stations across Egypt are being overwhelmed by people seeking fuel, while the government continues to insist that supplies are adequate.
Complaints have reportedly emerged over the past few days of shortages in 80 and 92 octane gasoline.
Hossam Arafat, chairman of the petroleum division at the Federation of Egypt Chambers of Commerce, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the reported shortages are “fabricated to embarrass Sherif Ismail, the petroleum minister tasked with forming the new government.”
Arafat said the amount pumped into the market has actually increased with the approach of the Islamic Eid al-Adha feast and the new school year. He explained that many drivers tend to fill their tanks as a precaution during this period.
“Oil stations only give me three answers: no gasoline at all, there is only 95 octane gasoline, or stand in line and wait your turn,” says Sayyed Mohamed Ali, a 35-year-old government employee. He is speaking of his daily struggle to find fuel at stations along the road from Maadi to the Cairo International Airport. He eventually chose to stand in line.
“I live in the Fifth Settlement and work in downtown Cairo, which requires me to fill my tank every three days,” says Sanaa Mohamed, another fuel seeker. “Today, I had to wait 45 minutes in order to obtain gasoline, that’s after having passed by more than five stations, none of which had 92 octane”.
While citizens are decrying the shortage in supply, station workers stress the supply remains unchanged.
Hassan Ahmed Hassan, a manager at an oil station located on the Ring Road, says that stations’ shares of the allegedly missing octanes have not changed. “There is just a high turnover by heavy-duty trucks, buses, tuk tuks and, of course, private cars,” he said. “That requires each car to wait in line to get gasoline.”
Fuel crises and other fuel-related issues have been a constant presence in Egypt, though strides have been made to streamline the process by which citizens can access gas.
Ibrahim Sarhan, the director of E-Finance, a government-owned company tasked with the development of fuel smart cards, said the appointment of petroleum minister Sherif Ismail as premier-designate will give a push to the faltering smart card scheme, which Egypt hopes will curtail black market sales.
“The smart card system is ready for activation and nation-wide application. We are waiting for the government to determine a good time [to implement it]”, he said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm