SANA’A, Jan. 7 – Taxi drivers protested on Friday in front of the Yemeni Oil Company’s main office on Sixty Meters Road. Their demand was twofold: that the market be provided with fuel, and for fuel prices to be reduced. The company told the Yemen times that they do not have authority to control fuel prices, and that it is the responsibility of the cabinet. “ Our job is to distribute fuel and has nothing to do with raising prices; the cabinet determines oil subsidies and the amount of imports, which the government has to cover.
Meanwhile, Yemenis have questioned the Minister of Oil and Minerals about a renewed fuel shortage in the Yemeni capital, present since mid-December.
The minister had promised to supply the capital city with fuel on December 27, but until the newspaper went to print there had been no improvement. The minister had said that the fuel shortage was due to road blocks. Eyewitnesses told the Yemen Times that the Republican Guards, commanded by outgoing president Saleh’s son Ahmed Ali, were blocking the road from Hodeida to Sana’a and preventing fuel trucks from entering the Yemeni capital.
“I saw more than 200 fuel trucks inside and outside Ahmed Ali’s petrol company in Subaha, 25 km from Sana’a,” said Jamal Hadi who saw the scene on his way to Hodeida, and was one of several to relate the same story to the Yemen Times. “The trucks unloaded the fuel into large tanks inside the company that were at least a 20-meter high and 20-meter wide.” “It is politics that keep Sana’a in need of fuel and electricity,” said taxi driver Mohammed Rajab. “We know that the fuel is there but they divide it among the corrupt, the thieves, and deprive us.” “Saleh’s regime is trying to make the National Unity Government fail by blocking the most important service which is fuel,” Mustafa Naser, chairman of the Studies and Economic Media Center, told the Yemen Times. Tribesmen as well as the Republican Guard block the Hodeida – Sana’a road, he said. On December 31, Reuters quoted the Yemeni minister of oil and minerals as saying that Saudi Arabia would give Yemen fuel that would be enough for two months, the second time in six months that Saudi Arabia was to bail Yemen out with fuel during the political crisis.
“Fuel distribution by other countries should be fair this time,” Naser said, explaining that the first donation did not help much in improving the life of ordinary citizens.
“The National Unity Government should prioritize fuel over any other issue right now,” he said.
The parliament has called on armed forces and security members to uphold their legal responsibility to prevent road blocks or sabotage. It has also demanded that the Ministry of Oil and Minerals provide fuel to citizens as well as regulate its price in all governorates. At the moment, in the Marib Govrnorate 20 liters of fuel cost YR 1,500, in Aden and Shabwa YR1,600, and in Sana’a YR 3,500.
Although it is said that the price of fuel is higher in the capital because its quality is better, many have complained that unleaded fuel burns faster than normal fuel. “I don’t know what is wrong with this Super Unleaded fuel,” said car owner Amani Ahmed. “On the same route that I take every day, this one ends really fast. I believe they cheat us on the quality.
” Due to the prices difference, some Sana’a residents actually travel go to other governorates to fill their cars. “I went all the way to Marib to fill my car,” one driver told the Yemen Times. “I bought six 60-liter tanks for my friends as well.”
The price differences also encourage black market dealers to sell in the streets. The government must clamp down on fuel smugglers, said Naser.