UK petrol crisis fuels sardonic reaction from struggling Lebanese

The snaking lines of frustrated drivers seen in Britain have are a feature of daily life in Lebanon

Meandering queues at petrol stations have been a staple of life in Lebanon for months now.

People sleeping in cars and four-hour waits for fuel are just another of Beirut's day-to-day struggles – so with a similar situation brewing in the UK, many in Lebanon could not resist drawing parallels.

A shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has left the country facing its own fuel crisis. Panic buying has led to queues forming at petrol stations across the country, despite the government insisting there is no shortage of fuel.

There are even reports that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thinking about using the army to drive fuel lorries. In Lebanon too, the army has been called in to manage crowds at petrol stations as tempers fray amid those desperate to top up.

“This is London at midnight, not Beirut nor Tehran where people queue for fuel,” tweeted journalist Rima Maktabi.

“Hey London. We're doing great in Lebanon with fuel lines. How about you?” said another user on Twitter.

“At the weekend before my flight to Beirut: fuel shortages causing queues at UK petrol stations,” said Yara. “Is the universe training me for my stay in Lebanon?”

“I thought I left this chaos of waiting at petrol stations behind in Lebanon,” said Monica Samia.

Dalia Salaam Rishani could not resist referencing the recent tankers arranged by Hezbollah that bought fuel to Lebanon from Iran.

“This is not in Beirut, this is in ‘civilised’ London – long queues waiting at petrol stations,” she tweeted.

“Should we divert one of the tankers towards Britain?!”

The British government insists that fuel queues will soon disappear, as panic buying ends.

Yet, Lebanon – caught in the grip of a punishing financial crisis, and a new government few believe can deliver critical reforms – seems set to endure its fuel queues.

Last week a Syrian man died in Lebanon after he accidentally swallowed fuel while siphoning it from his vehicle's tank with a plastic pipe.

The price of fuel in Lebanon jumped 16 per cent after subsidies were further reduced and inflation has led to petrol prices increasing five-fold since late 2019.

This week it was announced that the reopening of schools in Lebanon would be delayed by two weeks owing to the fuel crisis.

Updated: September 27th 2021, 4:09 PM
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