‘When They Get a Supply, They Let Me Know and I Quickly Fill the Tank’

Manzanillo truck and bus drivers fight every day to get fuel

The implementation of the new fuel prices not only extinguished the circulation of state buses, but also complicated life for private transporters / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Matos, Manzanillo, 24 March 2024 — It is five in the afternoon at the Manzanillo bus terminal stop, in the province of Granma, and people can’t take it anymore. The heat is around 33 degrees (91F) and the packages – almost everyone carries a basket or sack – will be the most difficult thing to get onto the truck that has just arrived. Slowly, with a white and green casing, and a strong stench of diesel, the vehicle parks and opens its hatch.

It charges 200 pesos for the trip of about 50 kilometers to Bayamo and shares the road with other private trucks – also green and heavy – that barely maintain the connection between Manzanillo and other nearby municipalities. The implementation of the new fuel prices not only extinguished the circulation of state buses, but also complicated life for private transporters

The other part of the wait begins once the passengers board the truck because until it fills to its maximum capacity the trip does not begin / 14ymedio

But he who invented the law, the saying goes, cheated. “I’m not worried that the diesel is unavailable,” one of the drivers on that vital route between the two large cities that are vying for prominence in that two-headed province tells 14ymedio. “I have my contacts in several service centers throughout the province. When they get a supply, they let me know and I quickly start filling the tank.”

The information costs, but it is worth it. “The money I lose later I will more than make up for, because the purchase is first-hand.” If he had to go to the informal market, a can of diesel would cost between 3,000 and 5,000 pesos, depending on the supplier, and a liter of gasoline would cost 600 pesos. “But there always is some,” the driver acknowledges.

In the absence of state buses, private transport trucks are the only option to get around / 14ymedio

The Manzanillo service centers enabled to sell in dollars have not imposed a limit on tourists, unlike what happens in some other provinces, such as Ciego de Ávila. There is an explanation: very few travelers pass through the province. The guajiros, who have also been affected by the change in the rules of the game, have to do whatever they can to get fuel. There is no special treatment for the farmers who have tractors and the oil they need is bought very expensively ’on the left’.

The worst part, however, remains for those who need to move from one town to another to work or study. The long faces at the stop say it all. Low-ranking soldiers, farmers, university students, workers in all kinds of companies or street vendors, the stress is repeated on each face. With a fanny pack on his shoulder, the driver – or an assistant – collects the tickets and starts the engine. To Bayamo –as the song says – but not by car


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.