News

Black market petrol racket booms amidst shortage

 

BY RUWANI FONSEKA

Due to the current lack of petrol across the country, The Morning learns that a black market petrol racket has been setup consisting of a network of filling station employees and middlemen.

An industry source revealed that employees at several petrol sheds dispense petrol to middlemen at the rate of Rs. 500 per litre. These dealers then sell the petrol to consumers at an inflated price starting from Rs. 600 per litre.

“There are people who are ready to buy the petrol at that price instead of waiting in long queues. I know of dealers selling petrol at over Rs. 600 also for a litre. People have come to a point where they are helpless and will do anything to obtain fuel to continue with their work,” he said.

The source further added that petrol traded in this manner is usually filled in plastic bags or empty water bottles, which has its dangers.

“This is especially dangerous to pack in plastic bags. A small ignition and everything goes up in flames. People need to know the risks and act responsibly as well,” he concluded.

When The Morning contacted Police Spokesperson SSP Nihal Thalduwa, he said that this racket started well before the actual fuel shortage and a circle of dealers has already been traced.

“This began just before the shortage of fuel. Dealers started to fill gallons and water bottles with petrol and diesel. This was not for their personal use, but for re-sale. We located a group of dealers in the Panadura area, and are currently trying to trace the rest of the circle. Sadly, when this happens, people get used to such unfair dealings and don’t understand that they are doing wrong to many others by hoarding the fuel,” said Thalduwa.

He further added that people should inform the nearest police station of such black market rackets or call the 118/119 hotline and immediately inform the authorities as black market dealings should not be encouraged.