Sat 21 Sep 2019

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Queuing Crisis: Daraa’s people Race against Time to Obtain Smart Cards

Citizens in Daraa governorate buying gas cylinders from the mobile distribution posts – December 17, 2018 (SANA)

Citizens in Daraa governorate buying gas cylinders from the mobile distribution posts – December 17, 2018 (SANA)

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Daraa – Though a few, the smart card distribution centers in Daraa governorate are bearing witness to an unprecedented queuing, for people were left with very little time to get the gas substance via these cards.  

The Petroleum Directorate in Daraa has defined June 10 as the last day, of a period during which people who do not have a smart card can get a gas cylinder. For this reason, people thronged in front of the card distribution centers – four in number throughout Daraa governorate.

The centers are: The Daraa City Center, Nawa City Center, Izraa City Center and al-Sanamayn City Center.

 

Hasty Decision and a Few Centers

Because the activation of the smart card system is only recent, in Syria in general and in Daraa governorate in particular, the distribution centers were expected to suffer overcrowdedness as the citizens attempted to maneuver the gas absence crisis, which has been accompanying them since 2011.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the Syrian regime’s government has applied the smart car system to the filling stations in Daraa governorate late in December 2018, while it operated it in the residential gas distribution centers on May 10, 2019.

The Ministry demands a number of documents to issue a smart card: A family record book, personal identification document, the identification documents of children who are at the age of majority and a family registry extract, which are difficult to obtain between May 10 and June 10, 2019, given the routine that rules the workings of the state’s departments.

Umm Mohammad, a female citizen based in western rural Daraa, commented on this, stressing to Enab Baladi the difficulty mentioned above, for she is forced to travel a long distance to reach the Daraa City Center.

She pointed out that she finally managed to get a card, after waiting in line for the first and second working hours of the center.

“The crisis is of large-scale and the procedures to follow and the identification documents to extract are many. We rushed to obtain the smart card, so we could get gas under the rations allocated to the town,” she says.

Just like Umm Mohammad, Abu Nouras (40 years) is complaining of the long queues, where people wait to get the smart card in his city, Daraa.

“We are stuck between the center’s refrain from providing us with gas unless we have a smart card and the difficulty at obtaining the card itself,” Abou Nouras says to Enab Baladi.

“This forced us to line up for long hours, to the extent that we started showing up hours before the employees. We keep waiting for a whole day without getting the card.”

Governmental Promises Await Implementation

According to the system, the holder of a smart card is to get a gas cylinder every 23 days, and the main reason that triggered the people to obtain the card is the increasing price of the gas cylinder in the black market. There, it is being sold for 5000 SP, while the government-backed price offered to persons possessing the card is 3200SP.

For his part, engineer Hassan al-Said, the Director of the Daraa Branch of the Petroleum Department, said that the decision was not actually put into force on the defined date.

On June 17, in an interview with the Syrian official TV, he pointed out to exceptions granted to certain cases, while he did not mention a specific date for the application of the decision which was supposed to be implemented on June 10.

He explained that 50% of Draa’s gas allocations will be provided to holders of the smart card; the other 50% is to be given to those who failed to obtain the card in the defined period.

He also promised that before June ends two other centers will be opened in the governorate to mitigate the overcrowdedness.

In the first a few months of 2019, Daraa governorate suffered a gas crisis, where the price of a single cylinder amounted to 1300SP.

In Daraa, the citizens are waiting for the realization of the smart card’s goals, as defined by the Petroleum Department, which are preventing the gas distribution delegates from manipulating the prices and making sure that citizens get gas cylinders on fair terms. These were the reasons that inspired the citizens to stand in line for long hours in the hope of getting their own cards.

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