Fishermen took to the streets in protest over the fuel price hike
Thousands of fishermen remained in port yesterday and hit the streets in coastal areas and cities from Mannar to Negombo to protest against recent hikes in the price of fuel.
Around 50,000 fishermen were reportedly involved in the widespread protests.
Their anger follows a steep increase in the price of fuel which came into effect on February 12. Diesel prices rose by 37 percent to 115 rupees (US$0.96) per liter, kerosene went up by 49.5 percent and gasoline by 9 percent.
Maxi Fernando, one of the organizers said they had no option but to protest as the rises are too much for them to bear.
Many protesters burned tires and old boats at road blocks, causing traffic delays in several areas. They also demanded help from the government in the form of fuel subsidies.
Saman Fernando, who protested in Negombo, called for a 50 percent price cut on kerosene.
“We are facing much hardship because of this,” Fernando said.
Protest leaders say they will continue their protests till a tangible solution is reached.
The government blamed the hikes on current crude oil prices which it said have risen sharply over the past week.
The Catholic Church has voiced concern over the plight of the fishermen and called on the authorities to come up with a solution as soon as possible.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said measures must be taken to provide some relief for fishermen following the price hikes. He called for a fair subsidy to be applied for all fishermen.
Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said a meeting would be held today with fishing industry leaders to finalize a subsidy package.
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