By Boris Esono Nwenfor
“There is no gas, come back later” has been the word of most, if not all the domestic gas suppliers in Buea and many towns across the country. For the past weeks, getting hold of domestic gas has been like running after your shadow, with no end in sight.
What has, however, infuriated many customers has been the price increase of many of the domestic gas by retailers in Buea. Some have even resulted to sell to individuals on the pretext that supply has run out, as this reporter noticed in one location in Buea. Gas that months ago sold for FCFA six thousand six hundred (6,600) was selling at FCFA eight thousand (8,000) and with the present situation, getting a domestic gas will fetch you upwards of FCFA ten thousand (10,000).
The situation is even worrisome in Bamenda, the chief town of the North West Region where the SCTM brand was selling for up to FCFA fifteen (15) thousand per bottle.
“This is afternoon and we are still waiting,” said a desperate customer who has gone without cooking gas for weeks. “Cooking and eating have not been easy since this problem started, and we are worried about how long this will last,” the troubled citizen explained.
Since August, Cameroon has been facing a shortage of domestic gas of several brands (Tradex, SCTM, Total, Afriquia Gas …) in several localities of Cameroon (Centre, Littoral, East, North West and South West). “The situation should return to normal with the arrival of the first tanker on 16 October. A second mothership is also expected,” Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, the Minister of Commerce reassures.
“I have been going out every day with my bottle for two weeks in the hope of being able to stock up. I see that the gas is still not available”, an annoyed consumer said. “At the start, I understood that the problem only arises at the point where I usually get my supplies. After going around several points in the city, I find out that it was a general problem.”
The Minister of Commerce further notes that the limited supply is related to administrative and currency problems, according to reports. The subsidy for this product is borne by the Caisse de stabilisation des prix des hydrocarbures (CSPH).
At the end of March 2022, the Minister of Commerce, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, estimated the subsidy for a bottle of gas at FCFA6777. The Minister, who is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSPH, projected the annual cost of this subsidy at CFAF 70 billion. This sum is higher than the overall expenses of this public institution, which amount to FCFA66.09 billion in 2021 and FCFA52.2 billion in 2020.