Good news at the pump

By Christine Brozyna

Aug 31, 2006 12:20pm

Correspondent Miguel Marquez blogs from Baghdad With all the terrible things happening in Iraq there is a new bright spot. The days of the 12 to 24 hour long gas lines may be numbered.  Dr. Husayn al Shashrastani, the Oil minister (whose job may or may not have been threatened by the PM,) has instituted new rules and enforcement at the pump. Gas stations are staying open till 9pm (4 extra hours); no more is it allowed for people to fill up jerry cans and other modified tanks (vehicle tanks were sometimes modified to hold thousands of liters of fuel so it could be resold on the black market); you can only fill up on the days your car is allowed to be on the street (there is an odd/even rule for license plates); finally there are guards at the stations and they are actually enforcing the rules (no more bribes.) (At left, Iraqis rest as they wait outside a Baghdad gas station earlier this month.) Our local staff reports that lines were as short at 15 minutes yesterday and today one staffer drove right up to the pump — NO WAITING. Miracle. How long this last is anyone’s guess. The Oil Minister actually went to a gas station yesterday and talked to happy drivers and gas stations attendants about how the new plan is working. All caught on camera for the local media, of course. It is interesting that this is one of the few anecdotes that I’ve seen where the government has actually been responsive to the needs of Iraqis.

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