On Friday, the government of Sri Lanka announced that all government offices and schools would be closed for the next two weeks owing to a lack of dollars needed to pay for imported gasoline. As a result, public transportation has almost completely ground to a standstill.
As a result of the severe lack of gasoline and diesel, the Ministry of Public Administration issued an order on Monday instructing all government agencies, public institutions, and local councils to maintain skeletal services beginning on that day.
The directive from the ministry said, “Due to the limited availability of public transportation as well as the difficulty to arrange for private automobiles, it has been determined to significantly reduce the number of personnel reporting to work.”
Since the latter half of last year, Sri Lanka has been unable to import necessities like food, medication, or gas because of the country’s current dire economic situation, which is the country’s worst financial crisis since it gained its independence in 1948.
The country is also grappling with record high inflation and continuous electricity shortages, all of which have led to months of rallies asking for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stand down. These demonstrations have often become violent.
In an extra effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the government decided earlier this week to make Friday a holiday.
Despite this transfer, there were long lines outside the pumping stations on Friday, and many drivers said that they had been waiting for days in order to fill their tanks.
The Ministry of Education has announced that all schools are to remain closed for the next two weeks, beginning on Monday. If students and teachers have access to electricity, they are to participate in online classes instead of attending traditional classes.
The decision to shut down operations came a day after the United Nations initiated its emergency reaction to the island’s unparalleled financial calamity by providing meals to thousands of pregnant women who were unable to find food due to a lack of supplies.
According to the United Nations, “four out of five people in Sri Lanka have begun missing meals because they can’t afford to eat,” and the organisation has warned of an impending “dire humanitarian disaster” with tens of millions of people in need of assistance.
On Thursday, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that as part of its “life-saving support,” it had begun giving meal coupons to about 2,000 pregnant women living in regions of Colombo that were classified as “underserved.”
Between the months of June and December, the World Food Programme (WFP) will seek to raise sixty million dollars (USD) for a meals relief operation.
Since Sri Lanka was unable to pay its foreign debt of 51 billion dollars in April, the country is now in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a possible bailout.