Fuel Shortages Hit Parts of Myanmar Due to Road Closures, Global Price Hikes

By The Irrawaddy 25 February 2022

Locals in Kachin and Kayah states and Sagaing Region, which are currently witnessing intense fighting between Myanmar junta forces and the combined forces of ethnic armed resistance groups and People’s Defense Forces, are facing fuel shortages due to a combination of prices hike and road closures.

Fuel prices have been rising since the military coup on Feb. 1 last year. This month, prices across Myanmar spiked again amid global oil price increases.

Fighting has raged for more than a month between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and junta forces, resulting in the closure of roads to Kachin Sate’s Putao Town. The price of basic commodities and fuel prices have skyrocketed in northern Myanmar.

A Putao resident who requested anonymity said, “We couldn’t buy fuel even if we had the money and were able to afford it.”

One bottle of petrol holding around 0.75 to 1 liter costs 10,000 kyats ($5) and 1 gallon costs 60,000 kyats ($30) according to the Putao resident. Before the coup, one liter sold for under 1,000 kyats.

The price hikes are also hurting farmers who use diesel to run their agricultural machinery, a social media user wrote in a message posted on a Putao regional Facebook group.

In central Myanmar’s Monywa, the capital city of Sagaing Region, one liter of petrol costs around 2,200 kyats; on the outskirts of Monywa it costs 2,500-3,000 kyats ($1.25-1.50) per liter.

Khant Wai Phyo, a resident of Monywa, said another problem is that the junta is limiting the amount of fuel allowed into some areas in restive Sagaing Region. Monywa is the commercial hub of Sagaing, and the restrictions on fuel there are hurting locals in other areas in the region, Khant Wai Phyo said.

In Kayah State, which also continues to be plagued by fierce fighting, fuel has become a scarce item.

Banya, the director of the Karenni Human Rights Group, said diesel oil is running out in his area, where people use it for agriculture machinery and generators, but also rely on it for transportation when they need to flee the fighting.

“In my area, there are small and medium-sized clinics and hospitals which need diesel to run their operations and to provide oxygen for sick people. We need diesel to supply oxygen to patients to save their lives,” Banya said.

In Demoso, 0.75 liter of petrol costs 2,000 to 2,500 kyats ($1-1.25). Before the coup, it was only 1,000 kyats ($0.70) for a 0.75-liter bottle.

Junta forces only allow merchants who have a good relationship with them to transport fuel, and it can only be used to run junta equipment. Thus, there is an imbalance between fuel demand and supply.

In Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial hub, the prices of gasoline and other fuels range from 1,730-1,820 kyats depending on the type, according to Yangon-based petrol station operator New Day.

Global oil prices soared above $100 per barrel on Friday after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine.

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