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Sri Lankans get temporary relief from curfew to buy essentials, anguished as prices continue to soar

Despite the brief relaxation of curfew in Sri Lanka, people are still burdened by the soaring prices of essentials. Many shops in main areas are closed even during the relaxation period as the short time period and increased fuel prices make it difficult for people to move.

Sri Lankans gather at a fuel station to buy diesel in Colombo. (Photo: AP/PTI)

Even as Sri Lankans got a brief respite from the ongoing curfew, people who stepped out to buy essentials were left anguished as prices continued to soar. There was activity on the road in Colombo, as the curfew was temporarily lifted till 2pm to allow people to purchase essential items.

Despite the temporary respite from the curfew, many shops in the main areas still remained shut. Shopkeepers say there are two reasons.

“One, the short time period given by the government makes it difficult for people to move. The fear of getting stuck. Also, the increased prices of fuel and transport makes it difficult for people to commute and adds a burden on the people,” said Riaz, a shopkeeper in the main street, a commercial hub in Colombo.

At the vegetable market, the public were disappointed and struggling. Many of them have reduced the quantity of the vegetables they buy as the prices of most vegetables have doubled in the last two months.

Lakshmi, a housewife, said, “We are in a terrible situation. I used to buy 1 kg of tomatoes earlier. Due to the sky-high price, I am only getting 250 grams. Everything is expensive and we have to compromise on our food as well.”

Another man at the vegetable shop said, “The monthly salaries of people are low, and people here don’t have a future. Imagine just 5 small mangoes are 500 LKR (Lankan Rupee). We spend everything we earn on essentials and don’t have money in case of an emergency.”

He further added that he wanted the Rajapaksha brothers, whom he sees as responsible for this issue, to be out of the government and also said there was a need for a new government and system in place.

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