On the verge of approaching its worst ever fuel shortage, the suffering of Haitians is about to increase with an extra burden that the long-suffering population has faced for more than a week with closed service stations and lines of motorists queuing to buy even a few drops of petrol, AFP reported on August 29th.
From the capital, Port-au-Prince, to smaller towns around the Caribbean country, car drivers and motorcyclists wait in line at the few gas stations still selling fuel, albeit at rising prices. One witness complained that he had been waiting for hours and that when the service stations were not closed those that were still selling gasoline were doing it drop by drop.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Association of Petroleum Product Distributors, David Turnier, confirmed to AFP, "there is a scarcity of petroleum products in the local market." Turnier added that the price of a gallon (3.8 litres) of gasoline, which normally sells for about 224 gourdes ($2.33), has more than doubled to 500 gourdes ($5.20) in some areas.
A source close to a prominent petroleum product importing company told AFP there is a cash flow problem, adding that the Haitian state does not have the economic means to pay its debts to the companies that import gasoline into the country.
Venezuela's PetroCaribe programme, plagued by allegations of corruption but which had allowed Haiti to buy petroleum products more cheaply and on credit, has been suspended for more than a year because of deteriorating relations between Venezuela and the United States.
Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries, which has faced months of political turmoil. At least seven Haitians died during protests in February that led to the fall of the government. It is also believed that three-fifths of Haiti's population of nearly 11 million live below the poverty line of $2 a day, according to AFP.