Gas cylinders now at a risky bargain!

Muscat, August 29 – Customer frustration over non-delivery and over-pricing of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders by suppliers is not a new phenomenon.
Adding fuel to the concern is that customers are now being asked to carry cylinders from where
the truck is stationed and that too at a premium.
The hardships increase especially during holidays when the orange mini trucks go off the roads and residents of Muscat have to run from pillar to post to secure a cylinder.
Customers complain that many suppliers are not making home delivery even if it is for a premium.
Instead, they station the trucks at places of their convenience and engage middlemen to
‘deal’ with them.
“When telephoned for a cylinder, the supplier expressed his unwillingness to make home delivery. Instead, he asked me to reach the place where the truck was stationed to collect it,” said Riaz Mohamed in Ruwi.
On reaching the spot in Al Walja, said Riaz, “There was nobody near the truck except the owner of a nearby coffee shop who offered me a cylinder at RO 3.5, including a premium of 500 baisas.”

It is not an isolated case.
In many parts of Muscat, cylinders are sold by unauthorised sources, including coffee shop owners.
And customers have to carry them in their vehicles, that too, after paying a higher price.
Citing several reasons, some suppliers are not willing to deliver cylinders to homes.
It has become quite difficult as transporting of gas cylinders involves safety issues, said Ashruff, another customer.
“Our vehicles are not technically and legally fit to carry them. Also individuals, except those who are authorised, are not allowed to transport the cylinders,” he said.
According to Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA), it is not permitted to use any vehicle for the transportation of LPG cylinders until the safety requirements are complied with and a certificate of licence obtained from the appropriate authorities.
“Cylinders should be uniformly arranged vertically with their valves uppermost and to be provided with passages permitting easy handling of each cylinder. The vehicle should be with diesel engine only and suitable for the safe use in transportation of portable cylinders filled with LPG,” stipulates the PACDA law.
When contacted, a supplier in Ruwi, Ahmed al Balushi, said that there is no rule that makes it mandatory to deliver cylinders at customers’ doorstep.
“It has been part of the safety regulations and a practice made to suit the convenience of the customers,” he said.

SAMUEL KUTTY