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COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s public transport was crippled Wednesday as buses ran out of diesel, officials said as the country’s foreign exchange crisis worsened with no dollars to import fuel. The Private Bus Owners’ Association said they were able to operate only about a quarter of their fleet of 20,000 vehicles, while drivers reported queuing for seven hours to top up fuel.

“I could not run the bus for two days because there was no diesel,” said 51-year-old bus driver Sarath.

“I have been in the diesel queue for seven-and-a-half hours.”

Many commuters were seen using their own motorcycles and small cars Wednesday after bus operators warned of drastically scaled back schedules.

One of Sri Lanka’s biggest fuel suppliers, Lanka IOC, put up prices by as much as 12 percent on Saturday while the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) said it too asked the government to allow it to raise prices.

CPC sources said Wednesday they had supplies only for four more days.

“We have also reduced the issue of diesel to gas stations and asked pumps to try and ration supplies,” one said.

Taxi driver Thushara, 36, said he was in a queue for six hours to get petrol for his three-wheeler.

“Why can’t (President) Gotabaya (Rajapaksa) consider the suffering of the people?” Thushara told AFP as he reached the front of the line. “Can’t he understand the suffering? Just come out and see. Why are you allowing people to suffer like this?”

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