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Widespread telephone and internet outages hit South Lebanon Monday as new government measures failed to appease state telecom provider Ogero employees, who are on strike. Phone lines, internet and cellular services were interrupted, impeding the work of commercial institutions and several banks, as well as the Red Cross emergency line. Meanwhile, telecommunications have repeatedly been interrupted in North Lebanon. Ogero employees began an open-ended strike last Tuesday to demand improved compensation. On Monday, caretaker Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm signed decrees granting employees monthly social assistance grants, an attendance bonus and an increased transportation allowance. However, the telecom provider employees’ syndicate refused to suspend the strike before being granted higher salaries. Corm joined Ogero head Imad Kreidieh in describing the workers’ demands as “fair” while noting that this does not give them “the right to prevent the supply of fuel to infrastructure,” as workers agreed to increase the number of stations they refuel to 21.
Dozens of passengers remained stranded on Monday aboard an irregular boat between the Greek and Maltese coasts as their water and food supplies reportedly ran out. One man, who said his children and grandchildren are among the stranded, called on authorities to rescue the boat. Tripoli MP Ashraf Rifi drew attention to the boat on Sunday, calling on Italy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lebanese Embassy to take quick action. A recent submarine search operation off the coast of Tripoli located some of the remains of people who sank aboard a smuggler boat that was intercepted by the Lebanese Army in April. The submarine crew left Lebanon last week without filing an official report after having located several of the deceased underwater. Security forces have recently halted several irregular migration attempts as living conditions become increasingly dire amid years of economic crisis in Lebanon.
Fuel prices rose as Banque du Liban further lowered the ratio at which importers may pay subsidized prices, leaving a mere 20 percent of imports subsidized at the bank’s Sayrafa platform exchange rate. Meanwhile, 20 liters of 95-octane gasoline increased by LL12,000, reaching LL628,000. Twenty liters of 98-octane gasoline increased by LL13,000, reaching LL643,000. “It is clear that Banque du Liban has only one last stage left to permanently stop securing dollars through its exchange platform,” Gas Station Owners’ Syndicate spokesperson George Brax said Monday, as the day’s fall in subsidies augured the complete dollarization of fuel imports. The central bank over the past weeks has gradually lowered the ratio of fuel imports subsidized at the Sayrafa rate while the gap between it and the parallel market rate widened to around LL7,000 as of yesterday.
The Civil Defense extinguished a fire in a dry grassy and wooded area adjacent to the eastern lane of the Damour highway, on the coast of the Chouf region south of Beirut. The firefighters said they had identified the fire’s alleged instigators. The Director of Civil Defense Raymond Khattar has claimed that in Lebanon “95 percent” of fires are caused by humans, intentionally or otherwise. Wildfires ravaged numerous wooded areas during the summer as heightened temperatures increased ignition risk. While firefighters, sometimes with the aid of local organizations, have been able to put out blazes, their task has been made more difficult by the financial crisis and the resulting reduction in resources.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Lebanese anxious over possibility of war as tension flares between Hezbollah and Israel”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Widespread telephone and internet outages hit South Lebanon Monday as new government measures failed to appease state telecom provider Ogero employees, who are on strike. Phone lines, internet and cellular services were interrupted, impeding the work of commercial institutions and several banks, as well as the Red Cross emergency...