Due to the closure of the Kirkuk-Erbil road by demonstrators, the Northern, Oil-rich city of Kirkuk has stopped the supply of state-subsidized petrol to one of its adjacent districts days ago forcing vehicle drivers to buy fuel from the black market or go to a neighbor district.
Demonstrators have blocked the Kirkuk-Erbil highway by sit-in-tents, demanding the cancelation of a decision by the Prime Minister to hand over the building of Kirkuk Joint Operations Command, an umbrella for Iraqi Security Forces ISF, to one of the leading Kurdish parties that claims ownership of the building till It has evacuated all its offices in Kirkuk following takeover of the disputed territories and ousting the Kurdish political parties and forces by ISF back in October 2017.
Abdul Muttalib Najm al-Din, the mayor of the Altun Kopri district, northeast of Kirkuk, confirmed in a statement to (KirkukNow) that many obstacles had arisen on the Kirkuk-Altun Kopri road.
“The movement of transport vehicles and tankers stopped, and as a result no quantity of gasoline and gas oil reached the district.”
There is one state-owned petrol station that supplies citizens with fuel at a price of 450 Iraqi dinars IQD per liter (USD0.3), state fee all over Iraq excluding the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR, but it has been closed for three days.
“Drivers are now buying from the black market at higher prices, and some of them are forced to go to Dubiz district,” according to the mayor.
Al-Dibs district is 18 kilometers away from Altun Kopri district, that is a 25 minutes’ drive.
The price of one liter of unleaded petrol on the black market ranges between 800 to 1,000 IQD, about twice the price of state stations.
Three days ago, demonstrators from the Arab component, supported by an Arab political party, closed the Kirkuk-Erbil road and set up sit-in tents on the road in protest against efforts to hand over the headquarters of the Joint Operations Command in Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP.
The headquarters is located on Shoraw Road, which connects Kirkuk to Erbil, which caused suffering to the people of Altun Kopri district, which is located on the same road.
Altun Kopri (The golden Bridge) is part of the oil rich-city of Kirkuk, home to about 1.7 million Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs, according to Kurdistan Regional Government KRG figures in 2018.
Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed province and has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the Erbil.
"I spoke with the director of the (state-owned) oil products distribution company in Kirkuk about using the Dubiz road to deliver fuel to Altun Kopri," said the district mayor.
An official source at the Kirkuk Petroleum Products Distribution Company on the condition of anonymity told (KirkukNow), “We are in the process of addressing the problem as soon as possible.”
“For this purpose, we will send an official letter to the joint operations command to approve the transportation of petroleum products to the Altun Kopri via Dubiz because this requires their approval.”
Today, Wednesday, August 30, a driver from the Altun Kopri (Bardi) district sent a video clip showing the congestion arising at the petrol stations of Dubiz sub-district due to demand by motorists from Altun Kopri to refuel and demanded a solution to the problem.
Abu Sajad, one of the organizers of the sit-ins in front of the headquarters of the Joint Operations Command in Kirkuk, said, “We are also exhausted because of the heat, but unless we get guarantees, we will not withdraw and we will not unlock the road.”