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Muscat: Gas cylinder customers are already suffering the sharp end of Oman’s petrol price increase with reports that sellers are hiking the cost of their products to cover their increased fuel bills.
While they risk being fined by the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) some sellers have increased the price of a 22kg cylinder of cooking gas from OMR2.8 to OMR3.5 or even OMR4 in extreme cases, residents in Ruwi told Times of Oman.
These same cylinders are being sold by distributors to the door to door sellers for OMR2 and the price of these have not changed. Some 2.92 million cylinders are sold in Muscat alone every year.
“I was shocked to learn that when my gas vendor said they had increased their prices as the petrol and diesel prices have gone up,” said S Basu, an Indian expatriate, who lives in Rex Road in Ruwi.
Basu is not alone. There are others, who have faced a similar situation in the last week. “I used to pay OMR3 for a 22-kg gas cylinder, but last week I paid OMR 3.5,” said Sushma, a resident of Wadi Kabir.
Speaking to Times of Oman, Umar Faisal Al Jahdamy, deputy director of PACP, said that any vendor selling a cylinder above OMR3 is liable to be fined.
“Although levying a nominal charge of 300 to 500 baisas is allowed for the vendor if he carries the cylinder to multi-storied apartments,” he said.
Depending on the extent of the offence, the fines could range anywhere from OMR50 to OMR1,000.
Without giving any specific numbers about the people fined, Jahdamy confirmed that PACP has been regularly taking action against the vendors upon receiving complaints.
“Citizens and residents should contact the PACP at 80079009 to report any violation. They should also hand over the vendor name and their vehicle number so that PACP can take action against them,” he said.
Rising fuel price
Gas cylinder suppliers, however, said they are being burdened by the increasing cost of petrol and diesel.
“The prices of petrol and diesel are more so we are asking for more money. Then there are costs of vehicle insurance and wear and tear of vehicles,” confirmed a supplier. He also said that since the early 90s suppliers had been buying gas cylinders for OMR2 and selling it for OMR2.8.
“The profit margin has remained the same, but not the cost of living. And there are restrictions on carrying only a certain number of cylinders in one vehicle,” he added.
A senior official from Muscat Gas told the Times of Oman (TOO) that they have already informed all the major distributors that they should not hike the price of gas cylinder for the consumers. “We issued this letter recently following a government order,” he stated.
The official also said the company does not deal directly with vendors. “We supply to distributors from our plant in Wadi Kabir, who in turn move the cylinders in the city through vendors,”he added.