Every time we have an issue with LPG, we have resorted to blaming.
When issues of shortage of LPG cylinders are reported, we blame the users for hoarding. When non-subsidised LPG was supplied, we blame the users again for not giving up their subsidised gas cylinders. When users blame the distributors of erratic supply, as was the case with industrial gas recently in Trashigang, the users were yet again blamed.
The problem persists. We have a compulsive tendency to blame someone or the other and at times even go to the extent of finding someone to blame for all the issues associated with LPG. The trade department, the distributors and the users are all pointing fingers, each claiming that their reasons for the current situation are as compelling and persuasive as the others.
Somehow in the process of outdoing each other in this blame game, we have forgotten the need to come up with solutions to resolve this chronic problem. An attempt was made to go digital in issuing the tokens in Thimphu and while it may have been initiated to troubleshoot issues, its poor implementation made it part of the problem.
LPG is one of the essentials, a basic necessity in our homes and the mostly widely used fuel for cooking. We have seen its impacts on our forests and health. So any disruption in its supply impacts our homes and lives. Despite three types of LPG cylinders in circulation, it is common to see residents, old and young queuing up early and for hours to refill their cylinders at the fuel depots. Start-ups that came up to deliver LPG cylinders were discouraged when the supply could not keep up with the demand. When their demand was met, other users’ needs were not.
Given our dependence on the fuel, it is imperative that we resolve issues associated with its distribution, use and misuse. The existing system needs an overhaul and a thorough study. Users must be sensitised and educated first before we persuade them to switch to non-subsidised gas. Instead of appealing urban residents to give up all three or four subsidised gas cylinders at once, encourage them to try surrendering one or two for a non- subsidised one. Explain how this move from them would help families in rural homes.
Commercial outlets must be taken on board to discuss their concerns on the use and cost of industrial gas. Imposing rules and threatening people of penalties on non-compliance would not work if their concerns were not considered. Service providers must invest in improving service delivery first and gain the confidence of the people in the service.
A dialogue, not to blame but to find solutions to make the system more efficient would be a good start.