The Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Lekey Dorji announced that the Department of Trade, Office of Consumer Protection, and the Regional Trade and Industry would investigate LPG Gas Cylinders.
The Minister said that the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay had himself called the minister on Thursday and instructed for a full enquiry.
Lyonpo said that he hoped that those who are affected would cooperate and collaborate and that the ministry will ensure measures to improve delivery of services to consumers.
This is after a Facebook post along with a picture by the Editor of this paper showed a leaking gas cylinder along with a cylinder that had lasted only two weeks.
According to the Mothithang Tashi BOD staff around three to four cylinders from every truckload leak. There is also no system to monitor this, call people in case of emergencies or even register complaints with the BOD. The Tashi BOD gas cylinders comes from a company called Indane under Indian Petroleum. Apparently according to the Tashi BOD staff the main Phuntsholing depot does not check these cylinders.
The Facebook post provoked a lot of reaction with several people coming forward to share similar experiences of either leaking LPG gas or gas cylinders finishing in a very short period of time.
Yekar Yangdon said, “This is a big issue. It happens to many, but only a few raise issues. The concerned authority must look after it seriously.”
Chhado Drukpa said, “It happened to me twice. The second one was quite dreadful. We had to keep the gas cylinder outside our apartment. While disaster could have happened and I was really mad with the people at the gas supply, I was at least happy they changed it with a better one the next day. Yes, such cases should be taken very seriously by both the seller and the regulatory authority before it gives rise to a serious accident which could engulf the entire city. It has the potential to do so.”
Elinore Chhetri also came forward and said, “I too got the experience of gas leakage many times. It is so scary and on top of that I live in an attic and it is really frustrating to take it back to BOD to change. Sometimes they hesitate to exchange even after me paying all the taxi far. It’s the risk that forces us to complain about. They should fix this issue so that we are not troubled and we are safe.”
A popular blogger Amrit Bdr Subba said that a couple of weeks ago, his LPG cylinder started heavily leaking the moment it was turned on. “We even bought a new regulator valve thinking the one we were using might have malfunctioned, but even the new regulator could not resolve the issue. So we took the cylinder to Mothithang BOD to be exchanged but they just changed the washer and returned it. Fortunately, that worked and there has been no danger so far. I am sure there has to be some mechanisms in place to ensure that such things are always safe for the public,” he said.
However, this does not seem to be Thimphu centric problem with people from other Dzongkhags also adding in their experiences.
Panna Prasad said, “It is not a new story at Thimphu only. It also happened at Tsirang but when I lodged a complaint they exchanged it with great difficulty. I said human life is more important than exchange of gas. The concerned authorities need to monitor for safety.”
Udams said that it happened to her twice in Dewathang with two cylinders finishing in a month.
People also pointed out that part of the problem could also be with how gas cylinders are unloaded and handled.
Dessup Kuenza said this is bound to happen given how they unload the filled gas cylinder at their depots throwing one top of each other from a height. “I don’t think those cylinder will last long and so before it is too late the management should investigate.”
Phurba said that a day might come where service provider can be sued for providing this kind of service if any serious mishap happens.
A suggestion from Kaka Tshering to check the weight of the gas was to make it mandatory that the gas agency keep a weighing machine in the gas delivery store to check the standard weight of the refilled cylinder while distributing to the customers.
However here the Karma Jimba the general secretary of the BKP party said, “To cheat on weight they can fill in water as well. I experienced such practices outside Bhutan. So now this happening this Bhutan did not surprise me.”
Summing up a major issue Sonam Tobgay said the problem is that 99.9 percent of the people don’t complain and that is why no one cares.
A National Council mandated Royal Audit Authority report on LPG cylinders had exposed several problems from over pricing to safety and expiry dates of cylinders. However, it is now clear that LPG suppliers still have many more issues to resolve starting from safety and giving the full amount of gas.