Mex­ico City hit by fuel short­age

Viet Nam News - - WORLD BUSINESS -

MEX­ICO CITY — The mood at Latin Amer­ica’s largest whole­sale mar­ket, the Cen­tral de Abas­tos in Mex­ico City, has mor­phed from typ­i­cally ca­cophonous and bustling to cloudy and anx­ious as de­liv­er­ies and sales grow slug­gish amid a days-long fuel short­age.

Pres­i­dent An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador late last month launched a sweep­ing plan to stanch ram­pant fuel theft, the first ma­jor move of his young ad­min­is­tra­tion against wide­spread cor­rup­tion and or­gan­ised crime.

But the move to close key fuel pipe­lines that have been tapped by crim­i­nals and in­stead re- route dis­tri­bu­tion via trucks has prompted hours-long lines at gas sta­tions, while threat­en­ing to crimp the econ­omy and dam­age the pres­i­dent’s pop­u­lar­ity if short­ages per­sist.

The ef­fects of the crack­down have grown no­tice­ably in the past week. At the Cen­tral de Abas­tos, where 62,000 cars and trucks con­verge daily to buy and sell fruits, plants and other goods, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided by the mar­ket, ven­dors say many have been stay­ing home.

“Forty to 50 per cent of sup­ply has been af­fected,” said Rafael Perez, 43, the pur­chas­ing di­rec­tor for Drinks De­pot, a bev­er­ages whole­saler. “We are talk­ing about sup­pli­ers from [ the states of] Hi­dalgo, Guer­rero, Cuer­navaca, Pue­bla and Tlax­cala.”

“Our sup­pli­ers’ de­liv­er­ies have been im­pacted,” Perez added. “Cus­tomers are not com­ing.”

Av­o­cado ven­dor Juan Car­los Ximil, 35, said he had seen a drop of about 30 to 40 per cent in sales of his stock, which he nor­mally pur­chases from sup­pli­ers out­side the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing More­los, Edomex and the av­o­cado- pro­duc­ing state of Mi­choa­can.

His cus­tomers, mod­est street­side ven­dors and gro­cery stores with lim­ited means of trans­port, have stayed away too, he said, most likely be­cause fears of long waits to stock up on gaso­line, or a short­age it­self, would hit hard at their care­fully cal­i­brated daily rou­tines.

“I feel like, more than a short­age, there is a kind of col­lec­tive panic,” said Ximil. “If you were used to con­sum­ing 200 pe­sos (US$10.45) of gas you go and load up even if you don’t need it, for fear that you’ll run out.” — REUTERS

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