Internet services were disrupted in Lebanon on Sunday due to a diesel shortage, the state provider said, adding another critical service to the list of victims of the country’s snowballing economic crisis.
Imad Credih, the head of state for internet provider Ogero, tweeted that as of Sunday, a major station in western Beirut, al-Mazra, will run out of diesel and go offline. He told Al-Jadeed TV that the outage affected more than 26,000 customers, including the country’s operating theaters.
He said that on Sunday afternoon, a resident donated diesel, allowing the station to go back online. Meanwhile, Achrafih, another neighborhood in eastern Beirut, ran out of diesel and was running on batteries.
“The situation is unbearable,” Credih told the TV station.
Lebanese live on state power for only a few hours a day and rely on a network of private generators that also rely on diesel fuel. As a result, neighborhoods often remain in the dark for hours. Meanwhile, residents have to pay for a range of services, including hefty bills to generator operators, which change regularly as the crisis worsens.
Internet and telecommunications services were already expensive in Lebanon. In 2019, a tax on WhatsApp services sparked nationwide protests, culminating in condemnation from the entire political elite.
The country dependent on imports also suffers from drug shortages, forcing patients to rely on the black market, smuggled drugs, and donations from Lebanese expatriates and civilian groups.
Lebanon is in the grip of the worst financial and economic crisis in its history that has once plunged the middle-class country into poverty.
The crisis lies in years of corruption and mismanagement by the same political class that ruled for years. Lebanon is running out of foreign reserves and has gradually removed subsidies for essential goods, including fuel and medicines.
But the government has yet to implement a social security program or negotiate a recovery plan with the International Monetary Fund.
The crisis caused the national currency to lose more than 90% of its value against the dollar, while banks restricted people’s access to deposits in local and foreign currencies for fear of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, inflation has risen and prices have risen.
State-owned and other telcos are complaining that they cannot keep up with rising operating costs, including fuel.
“I agree not to continue in this position until I have all the authority and resources to do my job,” Credih told al-Jadeed.
He blamed the interruption of services in west Beirut on an official who failed to sign a piece of paper in time to allow him to buy the diesel he needed. During the crisis, many public sector employees went on strike demanding to adjust their wages amid rising inflation and falling currency.
Credih said internet services outside Beirut were also affected.