Thousands flee fuel stations in Bangladesh as prices soar

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Thousands flee fuel stations in Bangladesh as prices soar

DHAKA: Thousands of Bangladeshis were besieged fuel stations across the country after the government raised prices by 52 per cent, the largest jump on record, due to higher oil prices.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has seen global energy prices go up, though oil has fallen back in recent weeks due to recession fears.

The price of petrol was going up by 51.7 per cent and the price of diesel by 42.5 per cent from midnight on Friday.

Motorcycle riders raced to fuel stations across the country to fill up before the price rise went into effect. Some stations stopped sales, and sporadic protests broke out.

Demonstrators said the increases will disproportionately hit the country's tens of millions of poor people who use diesel to power transport and farming irrigation pumps.

Police commissioner Md Nisharul Arif told AFP that retailers tried to impose higher prices immediately after the hike was announced.

People gathered and protested in front of all fuel pumps in Sylhet city. There were similar protests in other cities.

Nasru Hamid, energy minister, told reporters that the decision was driven by global markets.

In view of the global situation, some adjustments have to be made. If the situation normalises, the fuel prices will be revised accordingly, he said.

Bangladesh has been hit by higher energy prices in the wake of the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in a struggle to find fuel for power stations.

Diesel power plants, accounting for 1,500 megawatts of generation capacity - 10 per cent of the total - have been taken offline, as have some gas-fired plants.

In recent weeks, electricity blackouts of up to 13 hours a day have resulted.

The Daily Star newspaper reported that Dhaka asked the International Monetary Fund for US $4.5 billion after a visit by representatives of the Washington-based lender.

The Bangladeshi taka has dropped by around 20 per cent against the dollar in the past three months, further weakening the nation's finances - with the current account deficit hitting US $17 billion.