Colombo, May 22 (PTI) The Sri Lankan government has warned that it will suspend the delivery of fuel if transporters are threatened, after an angry mob torched a petrol pump owner's house in the country's North Central Province.
Spontaneous protests have been reported at the filling stations across the country where consumers have been waiting in long serpentine queues for fuel for hours on end.
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said if the public continues to threaten the truckers delivering the fuel, then the government will have to suspend fuel deliveries for the safety of the transport workforce.
“It has been reported that organised groups are preventing fuel trucks to pass certain areas demanding they be unloaded at different fuel stations and threatening to set fire to them. If this continues, we will have to suspend deliveries for the safety of the transport workforce,” he tweeted on Friday.
On Saturday, the residence of a fuel station owner and dealer in Anuradhapura, situated in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, was torched by an irate mob after the station ran out of fuel.
Citing obstructions and threat calls, the Ceylon Petroleum Private Tanker Owners' Association on Sunday requested police protection while transporting fuel, online portal the Daily Mirror reported.
Wijesekara conducted an inspection of the Kolonnawa Oil Storage Terminal here on Saturday to monitor the fuel distribution plans, Newsfirst Channel reported.
The minister also held discussions with military officers who were supervising the activities and the arrangements were made to inform the petrol station owners about the movement of the bowsers and to beef up their security, the report said.
Wijesekera said that a ship carrying petrol had begun unloading in Colombo port on Saturday night, and another ship carrying petrol is scheduled to arrive on May 25.
A government spokesman said tenders had been called for the procurement of petrol, diesel and gas for the month of July, according to online news portal Colombo Page.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan police on Sunday began a nation-wide raid on those hoarding fuel for resale.
Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa has warned that anyone keeping unauthorised fuel and cooking gas would face arrest.
The Sri Lankan government has asked its non-essential staff to stay at home due to the petrol and diesel shortage.
Lawmakers have asked the Parliament Speaker to give them accommodation in hotels as they cannot reach parliament from their homes in the absence of transport fuel.
India on Saturday provided another 40,000 metric tonnes of diesel to Sri Lanka under the credit line facility to the island nation which is grappling with its worst economic crisis.
Last month, India extended an additional USD 500 million credit line to help Sri Lanka import fuel as the country has been struggling to pay for imports after its foreign exchange reserves plummeted sharply in recent times, causing a devaluation of its currency and spiralling inflation.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.
The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)