efe-epaCaracas

Caracas residents this Friday formed long lines to fill up their vehicles' gas tanks and even had to avoid certain service stations that were temporarily closed for lack of fuel, a sign that Venezuela's gasoline shortage has come to haunt the capital.

As EFE observed in a drive around Caracas, the greatest fuel shortage is on the east side of the capital and some parts of the downtown area.

At the beginning of this week, lines of cars began to be seen at some gas stations and by this Friday the situation had extended to many more around the city, though without motorists having to wait in line for hours to fill up their tanks like those in the nation's interior have to put up with.

On Tuesday, the secretary of the United Federation of Petroleum Workers of Venezuela, Ivan Freites, warned EFE that the scarcity of gasoline will only get worse over the coming days.

He added that the authorities "are only keeping the capital supplied with fuel, but at any moment the same thing will happen here as occurred with the power outages."

At mid-morning, some service stations that were closed earlier in the day began to open after receiving their fuel shipments.

Jose Benito, an employee of a service station in downtown Caracas, said they had gone "three days without gasoline and today it arrived at 10 o'clock in the morning, but before all that we went six days without anything."

Benito regretted that "the situation has been getting really tough over the past month, and at the supply plant, nobody picks up the phone."

Motorist Richard Tovar said that when he got in line to fill his tank "I had five cars in front of me, not such a big deal, a normal situation - of course there's a shortage but we have to navigate the filling stations."

"Yes, it's all gotten pretty terrible but not like in other places. Here at least we can get gasoline every day," said Jose Sanchez, a bus driver who covers downtown Caracas and has to fill up twice a day.

At a station on the east side of Caracas, Roberto Andara said "it's been horrible" since he had visited four gas stations without success.

He noted that the scarcity is worse in the interior of the country: "Yesterday I went to Valencia, Nirgua and Bejuma (all cities in the central state of Carabobo), and there's just no gasoline."

Miguel, the driver of a tanker truck for state oil company PDVSA and who was delivering fuel to a service station in the Los Palos Grandes district of Caracas, told EFE that he had made three deliveries this Friday, "which is normal for one day," and said the reason those long lines form in the morning is because "people get nervous."