Petrol scarcity hits Sudan

Long queues of people seeking to buy fuel have overtaken roads in Sudan. Now, it is common for people to skip work for petrol and it has forced the transitional government to introduce a rationing system as it tries to manage acute economic pressures.

Some people have been spending entire days in queues that stretch for several km (miles) since the fuel crisis began late last week. Coming after the shortage of bread, it has piled more pressure on a government struggling to deliver improvements after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir last April.

The government is working under a three-year power sharing deal between the military and civilians and is battling with the legacy of decades of economic sanctions and mismanagement that hampered infrastructure development and investment.

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It also inherited a generous subsidy system under which petrol costs just 6.17 Sudanese pounds per litre (about 12 U.S. cents at official rates, or 6 cents at black market rates) and diesel 4.14 pounds per litre. Currently, the scarcity is caused by a broken refinery pipeline that is being repaired, though it is unclear how long this will take.

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