Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mafeesh benzine

There is no gasoline. There are huge lines at the petrol stations across the city. Egypt was scheduled to run out of strategic reserves by the month's end, but it seemed to happen overnight. We literally woke up two days ago to no petrol. Half the stations here are empty and dark, the other half have incredibly long queues that block traffic completely. There are rumors that the Ikwan did this to starve the people, but I do not think that is true. It would be like turning off the internet--it would only make people livid.

A petrol station in Cairo

Instead, I think the shortage has been made critical by the fact everyone here is panicking and running to fuel before this weekend's protests.  People see the long lines, freak out more, and the problem gets worse. It's like a run on the bank (which people are expecting here as well. Huge lines at the ATMs and no FDIC here, folks).

The shortage has coincided with an increase in tensions due to upcoming mass protests led by the Tamarod, or "rebellion," opposition movement.

Today my friend was late because he had to go pick up his boss, whose car ran out of gas. Midan Galaa, which I cross every day en route to the gym, is now permanently blocked with the cars waiting to be fueled. People are paying their bowabs and drivers extra to sit out for hours waiting for gas. Last night my friend was waiting in line for over three hours. Friends on Facebook are crowdsourcing petrol questions--where can I find gas? Where are the lines? WTF is going on? Are the Ikhwan cutting off supplies to stop people from going to protest?

A few days ago my friend works about 45 minutes outside Cairo. He got off work at 4:00 and called me at 7:30 furious--the road was so jammed he was not even able to leave the parking lot. Two hours after that he went to another friend's house to hang out closer to his work. It is now taking people four hours to get to places where it would usually take two.

Egypt's Ministry of Petroleum denies there is a fuel shortage. They live on Mars, apparently. Morsi spoke last night. For two and a half hours. He basically said rubbish, saying foreign fingers were influencing things, saying the Ministry of Interior would form a unit to combat "thuggery" and terrorism, including blocking of the streets. While admitting some mistakes, he blamed the media for bringing a negative light to the office of the presidency. Blah blah blah.

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