Sri Lanka has run out of fuel and only essential services will operate starting midnight. The list of essential services will include health, law and order, ports, airport, food distribution and agriculture. All non-essential services have been suspended till July 10.
“From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have,” government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Schools will remain shut and employees of private offices have been asked to work from home. Government officials have been asked to opt for work from home.
This is the first time the island nation of 22 million people has run out of fuel. Sri Lanka has been reeling under its biggest economic crisis since its Independence in 1948 and has been unable to finance the import of food, medicines or fuel since late last year.
Earlier this month, the Public Administration ministry ordered all departments, public institutions and local councils to maintain skeleton services in view of the duel shortage.
“Due to scarce public transport as well as the inability to arrange private vehicles, it is decided to drastically curtail the number of employees reporting to work,” the ministry’s order said.
The order came a day after the United Nations launched its emergency programme. Four out of five people in Sri Lanka are skipping meals as they cannot afford to eat, the UN said. The World Food Programme said it began distributing food vouchers to about 2,000 pregnant women in parts of Colombo.