February 17, 2015
The Yemeni population is once again faced with a severe shortage of propane gas. This has caused much grief among poverty stricken Yemeni families who make up the majority of the Yemeni population. Fifteen-year-old Bashir Merhibi is the eldest son in a Yemeni family. Bashir struggles on a daily basis to find propane gas to cook food. Instead of going to school in the morning, Bashir is forced to search the streets barefoot for propane gas in a number of neighborhoods in the Yemeni capital. A Transterra contributor spent the day with Bashir Merhibi as he searched for propane tanks. He would roll his 40-pound empty tank along the road with his feet through many neighborhoods hoping to take a full tank home to his family so they can cook their food. Unfortunately Bashir was unable to obtain any propane gas as the price had increased to 1,900 Yemeni Rial (almost $9), and he only had 1,200 Rial. The severe gas shortage in Yemen is due to disgruntled tribesmen who occasionally blow up gas pipelines and block supply routes in the province of Ma'rib to pressure the Yemeni government to meet their demands. The shortage of gas in Yemen has resulted in a price hike of propane gas, which many Yemeni families cannot afford.
Sound bite, Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic)
"My name is Bashir, I am 15 years old and I am in the ninth grade. Instead of going to school, I wake up and go searching for propane gas with this tank, and this tank has been through all kinds of streets. From street to street and from station to station, I have kicked and pushed this tank with my hands and with my feet".
"I have been searching for gas since seven in the morning; I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch. I drank water and ate a biscuit from the store and that’s it and continue to search and search for gas in a number of streets and propane gas stations. In this country, you have to search for everything. Nothing comes without struggle. Just like this: this is an example of Yemen. They give you gas like this: drip-by-drip".
"I started my search at seven in the morning and the time now is five pm. After searching for gas in many streets and many stations, I finally found one. I thought I was going to pump gas, so I waited in line until I reached the front."
"I asked the owner how much? And, he replied, ‘1900’ (Yemeni Riyal.) I then told him, “Fear god! The original price is 1200 (Yemeni Riyal) and you want to sell it for 1900?” I tried to plead with him and told him I only have 1200; however, he told me to either pay 1900 or go home. We argued and argued and almost got into a fight. I took my tank and told him all I have with me is 1200."
Sound bite, Kamal Ali Ahamed - Propane Gas Store Owner, (Man, Arabic)
“The cause of gas shortage is due to the low gas production from Safer. The Safer Gas Company fills 39 propane trucks every day; however, there are 1200 propane trucks queuing in line at Safer Company waiting to fill their gas trucks so they can distribute gas throughout the nation. This has led to fewer propane truck deliveries to the Yemeni capital. Because of this, only 150 to 200 propane trucks make deliveries per week. This has led to higher demands for gas in the Yemeni capital, while there are fewer gas deliveries."
"The second reason is there are now more cars which run on propane gas. In 2014, nearly 67 thousand cars that run on gas entered the county. This resulted in a higher demands for gas; however, the gas production in Safer (Mareb province) is only sufficient enough for the use of average households only."
Sound bite: Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic)
"No car, no motorbike and no bicycle. I am just like all other Yemenis, I have to kick and push, kick and push from street to street and from gas station to gas station Sometimes, I find a station with propane gas however, there are long lines which reach up to 500 to 600 tanks. When I reach the station, people usually try to cut in line in front of me, which results in heated arguments and sometimes fights. I don’t know what else to do. This is very depressing. The gas problem in Yemen is very depressing."
Sound bite: Abdurahman al-Yemani - Citizen, (Man, Arabic)
“We want a solution to the gas problem; we been waiting in line since the morning. All of us have haven’t ate lunch. The rich people are living comfortably because they have gas; however, we the average workers have to spend all day waiting in line. Will they ever have mercy on us, or are we going to continue living like this?"
Sound bite: Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic) "Unfortunately, I am now going home and I don’t know how to tell my mother and father that I couldn’t find gas. What will I tell them, what shall I do?"