Friday, April 6, 2012

Egypt: Fuel Shortage Threatens Bread Supplies

Cairo — It has been three months since a fuel shortage hit Egypt, and people's patience is wearing thin amid fears the crisis could disrupt the production of subsidized bread.

"I move from one petrol station to another every day to find the fuel necessary for the work of the bakery," Omar Muselhi, a bakery owner from Giza, told IRIN. "I cannot do this for long. If things get worse, I will close down."

Most of Egypt's subsidized bakeries need diesel to operate, and some have had to close, for example in the Nile Delta governorate of Monofiya (Arabic).

Outside Muselhi's bakery, men, women and children form two long lines, and wait their turn.

"I buy 20 loaves of this bread for one pound, whereas the same number sells for four pounds at unsubsidized bakeries," said Ayman Farahat, standing in line outside the bakery. "This shows how important these bakeries are for people like me."

Observers say there is a 35 percent shortfall in fuel supplies. The government blames hoarding for the crisis. Thousands of cars queue outside petrol stations from early morning, while long queues form outside gas cylinder centres.

"We are doing our best to solve the problem, but what is happening is abnormal," Petroleum Minister Abdallah Ghorab said on 24 March. "Some people take the subsidized fuel and sell it on the black market." Read More