One killed in fight over butane cylinders

Disputes among the public over limited supplies of butane gas cylinders continued to escalate this week in areas throughout the country, with a number of clashes reported involving knives and clubs.

On Wednesday, Mohamed Abdel Fattah, a 23-year-old butane distributor, was killed in Giza’s Imbaba district after a second man jumped on his van in an effort to steal a gas cylinder. A fight ensued, in which Abdel Fattah was killed. The culprit was injured in the fight and reportedly taken to hospital.
There have also been several reports of the old and infirm fainting among angry crowds jostling over gas cylinders. According to a source at the Giza Provincial Authority, local restaurant owners often pay bribes to outlet  managers in order to obtain cylinders without having to stand in line.

Meanwhile, the attorney-general ordered immediate trials for all gas outlet managers found hoarding cylinders with an intent to sell them later on the black market, where prices for a single cylinder have reached LE70 in some places. Butane gas cylinders normally sell for between LE5 and LE10.

The crisis has prompted Supply Ministry Undersecretary Abdallah Badawi to announce that university graduates could apply at the ministry for temporary employment distributing gas cylinders. "We’ll pay them LE240 a day," Badawi said. "But their vans must be in good condition."

General Petroleum Authority CEO Abdel Alim Taha, for his part, vowed that the crisis would soon be resolved. "We’re currently supplying the market with 100,000 extra cylinders," he said, going on to note that total daily supply had reached 1.2 million cylinders.

Taha went on to say that additional quantities of gas would soon be imported to meet rising local demand. "We have reserves enough to last for seven days," he said.

In the provinces of Fayoum, Aswan and Damietta, meanwhile, the butane shortage eased slightly after the Supply Ministry reportedly increased local supply.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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