Mahalla microbus and taxi drivers blocked roads across the city on Sunday in protest to the ongoing diesel crisis in the city.
The drivers blocked Al-Bahr Street, Al-Shoon Square, the ring road and the railways, according to Ahmed Abdel Kader, a member of Al-Dostour Party in Mahalla. “They parked their vehicles in the middle of Mahalla’s main streets and roads. There is nearly no traffic in Mahalla now,” Abdel Kader said.
Diesel trucks usually arrive at Mahalla’s fuel stations at 3 am, but on Sunday the trucks did not arrive until 7 am. Drivers who had been queuing at fuel stations moved on to park their cars in the middle of several roads, according to activist Ahmed Samy, a resident of Mahalla.
Samy added that the chief of Mahalla’s Second Police Station tried to convince drivers to reopen the roads, but was unable to do so.
Police officers from Mahalla’s Second Police Station went on strike last week in protest against the Ministry of Interior’s refusal to provide police officers with live ammunition. The strike ended two days ago.
Abdel Kader said that he could not drive or take a taxi to work, and that walking is the only means of transportation now available. “No taxis, no microbuses, and almost no cars are seen on the streets of Mahalla today. Even roads leading to Mahalla are blocked. No one would be able to come here today.”
Media reports claim that the diesel crisis in the city has been caused by the theft of diesel from fuel stations to be sold on the black market. Some have claimed that fuel station owners are threatened into supplying diesel to the black market. Abdel Kader said that this was not entirely true. The amounts of diesel supplied, he said, are not sufficient for the number of vehicles waiting in fuel station queues and this provokes drivers, causing fights at fuel stations.
“Station owners have hired thugs to defend their stations from angry drivers, and they give them some diesel to sell on the black market in exchange for their services,” he explained.