Despite the Prohibition, Havana Service Stations Dispense Fuel in Containers

Customers hoping to get containers filled with fuel. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana/Madrid, 23 March 2022 — Despite the fact that the Havana authorities prohibited the sale of fuel in containers on Wednesday, some Cupet service stations ignore it and, without making much effort to go unnoticed, offer the service to customers.

According to this newspaper, the employees arrange the hose so that it seems that they are filling the vehicle’s tank, when in fact they are dispensing into plastic containers through the windows or inside the trunks.

In the early hours of the day, 14ymedio reporters verified that gas stations respected the ban on selling fuel in containers, despite requests from some individuals. However, as the hours passed, the controls began to relax.

The employees arrange the hose so that it seems that they are filling the tank of the vehicle, when in fact they are dispensing in plastic containers inside the trunks. (14ymedio)

It was clear, unlike days before, that there was an absence of police officers guarding the long lines of vehicles. However, a piece of paper posted in all gas stations made it clear: it is forbidden to fill containers.

Two days after lines for fuel began to proliferate in Havana , the capital’s Temporary Work Group attributed the fuel shortage to the breakdown of the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant in Matanzas, the largest in Cuba, which no longer served the National Electric System as of Thursday.

In a note published on Havana Channel, the authorities argue that, as a result of the electricity generation deficit, the use of diesel-powered generators increased. In addition, specialized transport must also make more trips to keep them going, so measures have been taken to “guarantee basic transport services.”

The note indicates that two service stations, Intermitente, in Guanabo, and El Arbolito, in Playa, will provide services exclusively to rental cars for tourism, although those drivers can also go to any other station that has fuel. This newspaper confirmed that in this last Cupet visited this instruction is strictly complied with, despite the pleas of some individuals to sell them gasoline.

This is as far as the explanations in the official press go. This newspaper sounded the alarm about fuel rationing in the capital this Monday, when the only known measure was the official regulation announced for the province of Matanzas. In this case, citizens were warned that only 10 liters of gasoline and 20 liters of diesel will be dispensed in containers and a maximum of 20 liters of gasoline and 40 liters of diesel in the vehicle tank.

In Havana, on the other hand, the quantities seem to be at discretion, since no limits have been officially established. This Tuesday, on a tour of several service stations, the employees told 14ymedio that there was no diesel, while one of them specifically reported the sale of 20 liters of gasoline per vehicle. This Wednesday, however, the “directive” was different: both diesel and gasoline would be dispatched until the tanks were filled, but not in containers.

The “directive” of this Wednesday in Havana is different from that of Tuesday: now both diesel and gasoline will be dispatched until the tanks are filled, but in no way in containers. (14ymedio)

Just like days ago, the lines in front of the service stations are run for miles. In the Cupet station at 31st and 18th, in the municipality of Playa, for example, the line of vehicles reached 42nd street this Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the annoyance is so evident in the long lines these days — in which there are taxi drivers, ordinary citizens, and officials with state cars — and it is also evident in the reactions to the information on Canal Habana.

The report accumulates dozens of comments from people outraged, among other things, by the decision to stop filling containers. “Do you mean that if I run out 2 kilometers from the Cupet, I can’t go with a container to look for fuel? Do I have to push the car 2 kilometers to fill fuel?” lamented a user.

In the Cupet of 31 and 18, in the municipality of Playa, for example, the line of vehicles reached 42nd street this Wednesday. (14ymedio)

Several taxi drivers have criticized the decision that relegates them to the status of rental cars and have claimed the importance of their work in a city where public transport is clearly insufficient for the mobility of more than two million people.

“And the taxis that are linked to the Scientific Centers that work twelve hours, do we have to stand in line for several hours after work? The same happens for those workplaces linked to healthcare. Not to mention when the work is in another province, you need an audience with the provincial governor to authorize 10 liters. Yes, only ten liters 800 km away from the capital,” commented a taxi driver.

“And the taxis that are working on important tasks for the country, such as those of us at the Finlay Institute of Vaccines and CiGB, and with the MINSAP in the fight and prevention of covid and other tasks? Lining up in endless lines, just like those who provide services to tourism in air terminals?” adds another.

Many have lamented that the country never has good news to give and some dare to predict a new “July 11,” in reference to the social outbreak that led last year to the largest demonstrations against the Government in decades.

There are also users who have requested that the tanker cars of the Armed Forces be used, an idea that has generated some ridicule. “No, friend, their reservation is not touched by anything in the world.”

Although several see a medium-term solution. “But the generators don’t work with gasoline or if they do, will it be to store fuel to fill up 50,000 cars for May 1st*?” one asks. And another adds: “Will the problem be solved by May 1? I know, I know the answer.”

*Translator’s note: May 1st, “Labor Day,” is Cuba’s most important national holiday with marches and rallies involving thousands.


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