BEIRUT — Wednesday brought another grim milestone in Lebanon's economic collapse since 2019.
While the Lebanese lira beat another new record low of LL77,000 against the dollar on the market, protesters blocked several roads in Beirut and the north.
Amid all this, some gas station owners decided to close down shop for the day after yet another increase in fuel prices, due to the extreme volatility of the national currency.
In this context, the union of gas station owners in Lebanon asked caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad on Wednesday to dollarize fuel prices "until the situation stabilizes." The ministry publishes new fuel prices twice daily to try keeping pace with the depreciation of the lira.
An open letter addressed to Fayad and published in the state-run National News Agency called on the minister to "issue a scale of fuel prices in dollars over a given period until the situation stabilizes. Such a measure must be taken in the interest of the citizen and the gas station owner."
To protest against this deepening crisis, angry demonstrators closed several roads across Lebanon.
According to local media, some people had managed to close the Cola roundabout in Beirut. In the north, L'Orient Today's correspondent reported that "many roads were blocked in several parts of Tripoli, with dumpsters," to protest against the soaring dollar. Heavy gunfire was also heard in the area, but no casualties have been reported, according to our correspondent.
In Akkar, people cut off a road in Halba and part of the highway at the Nahr al-Bared bridge.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, Protestors, enraged by the rapid depreciation of the local currency, constructed new roadblocks across Lebanon, L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South reported.
Demonstrations were reported in Beirut, Saida and Mazraat Yachoua.
A number of taxi drivers blocked the road near the Interior Ministry in the Sanayeh area of Beirut to protest Lebanon's deepening crisis. Some motorcyclists, who insisted on passing through the barricades, beat protestors, according to the National News Agency.
The protesters caused severe traffic jams in an effort to demand the stabilization of surging fuel prices and improved livelihood.
Citizens trapped in their cars called on officials to intervene to reopen the roads, as "the drivers' movement to obtain their rights should not be at the expense of the citizen," the NNA reported.
In Saida, South Lebanon, protestors blocked the road at Elia Square, also in protest of the rapid deterioration of the local currency and thus their livelihoods.
Meanwhile in the North, protesters blocked the Antelias-Bikfaya highway at Mazraat Yachoua point with burning tires and waste containers, according to the NNA.
More than three years of economic crisis in Lebanon have seen the national currency depreciate by more than 98 percent compared to the former official exchange rate.
Meanwhile, without a president or fully empowered government, Lebanese authorities are still stalling the reforms needed to stem the country's economic and financial collapse and receive a potential International Monetary Fund loan.
Additional reporting by Michel Hallak and Muntasser Abdallah