Bus drivers protest in Sulaimani against high gasoline prices in Kurdistan

Dozens of mini bus drivers and several taxi drivers protest in Sulaimani against high gasoline price in Kurdistan Region, October 17, 2021. (Esta Media Network/Pavel Abdulrahman)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Dozens of mini bus drivers on Sunday protested in Sulaimani city against high gasoline prices in the Kurdistan Region, calling on authorities to solve the issue.

Fuel prices have risen across the Kurdistan Region shortly after the Iraqi parliamentary elections on October 10.

One liter of “normal” gasoline in the patrol stations is sold at 850-900 dinars (58-62 cents), while “super” gasoline price is at 1,000-1,050 dinars.

Normal grade gasoline was sold at 500 Iraqi dinars (34 cents) at the start of 2021 but the prices rose to around 750 dinars per liter (51 cents) late this summer.

“The ink has not dried yet, and they have risen gasoline prices for people,” a mini bus driver said, referring to the election ink applied to the forefinger of voters.

“The authorities are so reckless towards people,” he added.

The drivers blocked the main road in front of Sulaimani Center District building with their mini buses.

They said they would have to increase fares if the government did not solve the issue.

A taxi driver who also attended the demonstration criticized the government for increasing fuel prices in the Region, calling on the government to drop prices.

“Why they sell [fuel] of Bazian refinery to Baghdad at 450 dinars, but they don’t sell it to us for 500 dinars,” he said.

Both Bazian and Kar refineries in the Kurdistan Region provide the federal government with gasoline, which Baghdad sells at 500 dinars in the provinces under its control.

Another bus driver said gas prices had also risen by 100 Iraqi dinars in the Kurdistan Region.

“The prices change. One liter was 600 dinars, but it rose to 700 dinars the day after,” he said during the demonstrations.

On Thursday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) attributed the hike in fuel prices to the increasing global price of oil and to some shipments of refined gasoline being stopped at international borders, as the Region imports most of its gasoline from neighboring countries.

The prime minister had tasked the natural resources minister to visit Baghdad to solve the issue and to prepare a plan with private sectors for future imports of fuel, KRG spokesman Jotiar Adil said.

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