Customs Agents Strike over al-Jadeed Brawl, Gas and Oil Distribution Halted

Customs agents held a strike at Beirut and Tripoli Ports, and at Rafik Hariri International Airport on Wednesday over the brawl between al-Jadeed crew and security officers at the downtown Beirut Customs office a day earlier.

The one-day strike affected the distribution of oil and gas to petrol stations.

Fadi Abou Shaqra, advisor to the Gas Station Owners Association, told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that “there is no gas crisis in Lebanon.”

But tankers cannot go out of Beirut port unless the Customs agents are there, he said.

Abou Shaqra appeased fears, saying gas stations have supplies for one week.

He hoped that Caretaker Finance Minister Mohammed al-Safadi would find a solution to the issue before it grows.

On Tuesday, al-Jadeed reporters were assaulted by security officers at the Beirut Customs office after one of the journalists used a megaphone to demand an interview with the acting director of Customs General Directorate, Shafiq Merhi, about alleged corruption.

Following a lawsuit filed by the TV station, the Central Criminal Investigations Department questioned the crew under the supervision of acting State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud for several hours before releasing them.

A statement from the Customs said Tuesday that the journalist used degrading language, adding it was not the appropriate manner to request an interview.

Safadi met on Wednesday with Merhi, who told VDL that the action taken by Customs agents would be resolved “so that the interests of the Lebanese are not subject to paralysis.”

He also said that the Directorate would file a slander and defamation complaint against the al-Jadeed team.

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