Middle East

Angry Turks queue for petrol ahead of steep price hikes amid lira crash

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ANKARA/ISTANBUL, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Thousands of angry and exasperated Turks queued at petrol stations on Wednesday ahead of a steep hike in fuel prices after the Turkish lira crashed to record lows following President Tayyip Erdogan's defence of rate cuts.

Other Turks took to the streets in protest for a second consecutive day.

The lira hit all-time lows against the dollar in 11 consecutive sessions before Wednesday, and has lost as much as 45% of its value this year, with around half of those losses coming since the start of last week.

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On Wednesday, the lira recovered as much as 7% and stood at 12.20 to the dollar at 1819 GMT, but volatility and steep price rises still worried consumers and investors. read more

The Employers' Union of Energy, Petrol, Gas Supply Stations (EPGIS) said gas prices would rise by 1.02 lira ($0.0834) from midnight - the latest in a series of energy price hikes, prompting the long, irate queues at filling stations.

"I have been waiting for 20 minutes to buy gas. Can there be such ridiculousness? This is the state they have brought Turkey to. What more can I say?" said motorist Ibrahim Ozturk.

A money changer holds Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Ankara, Turkey September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Cagla Gurdogan

"In these tough economic conditions, people are probably all waiting in these queues to save 30 lira, and I guess the country's economic state can be seen from these conditions," said Sinan Coskun as he waited amid a sea of cars.

Many Turks, already grappling with inflation of around 20%, fear price rises will accelerate. Retailers too are struggling with the turmoil, with some websites on Wednesday stopping sales of electronics products. read more

Opposition politicians have accused Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades, of dragging the country into crisis.

Turks have also taken part in scattered protests against the government's economic management, calling on it to resign.

Dozens of demonstrators were detained in Istanbul's Kadikoy district late on Wednesday - some were dragged away as riot police closed off streets, Reuters footage showed.

"Let's see where the price is in a week or 10 days. It is open-ended. I think it will go until wherever it goes," Serkan Ceylan said sarcastically as he awaited his turn at a gas pump.

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Reporting by Mert Ozkan in Ankara, Umit Bektas and Mehmet Emin Caliskan in Istanbuk; writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Mark Heinrich

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