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Gas costs Dh10 more in Sharjah, fuels complaints

By Meraj Rizvi and Lina Abdul Rahman / 28 November 2004

SHARJAH — Price of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Sharjah has increased this month from Dh50 to Dh60 for a medium-size cylinder (22 kg), throwing off guard the domestic budgets of many residents.

The hike has been caused by the recent hike in fuel price globally, sources said, pointing out that a 10 per cent increase in the prices of LPG cylinders was first effected all over UAE in September 2004.

“The medium-size cylinder price in Sharjah touched Dh50 from its previous price of Dh45. Thereafter, the LPG price  has been on the rise with every passing month and the latest price hike on November 4 has touched an all-time high of Dh60 for a 22kg LPG cylinder, causing a heavy dent to the budgets of consumers in the emirate,” Sharjah residents complained, adding that the 11kg cylinder now costs Dh35, while, the 44 kg gas cylinder costs Dh110.”

Residents also complained of the difference in price of LPG gas cylinders in Dubai and Sharjah.

“While, Dubai continues to maintain uniform price, Sharjah gas cylinder distribution companies have set their own prices, higher than their Dubai counterparts,” pointed out N. Ahmed, a resident of Sharjah.

LPG cylinder distribution companies in Sharjah blame the three gas supplying companies in Sharjah for hiking the prices every month.

"In the beginning of the month, we receive details on the price increase, and if the increase is minor, we do not incorporate it in the hiked prices. But, a major increase cannot be absorbed and therefore we are forced to pass it on to the consumers," a source at Pioneer Gas Company said.

According to officials of Emirates Gas and Emarat, the two LPG gas distribution companies for Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, “there is a comprehensive fuel plan in these emirates whereby the distributors are informed about the exact sale prices of cylinders, and the consumers are well aware of the latest prices.”

“In case we receive complaints from any violating gas company, we force them to return the extra money levied on consumers, failing which strict action is also taken againt them,” the officials said.

The LPG gas price in Dubai, effective September 12, for an 11kg cylinder has been increased from Dh28 to Dh31, while those for a medium-size cylinder (22kg) has been increased from Dh48 to Dh53 and the large cylinder (44kg) from Dh92 to Dh98.

The officials attributed the recent hike to the continuous increase in the cost of LPG in the UAE, which came into effect from September 12, 2004.

"The recent hike in the price of cooking gas cylinders resulted from the high LPG cost internationally fixed by our suppliers in Saudi Arabia. We were forced to increase the price of gas cylinders as it is becoming impossible for us to absorb the constant increase of LPG,” he said, sympathising with the consumers who are affected due to the hike in LPG gas price.

The three companies — Unigas, Universal and Arogas — responsible for setting the price hike in Sharjah should unify their prices to prevent the residents from being manipulated by the LPG gas cylinder supplying companies. The official urged Sharjah residents to refer the erratic price hike to Sharjah Municipality or to the Economic Development Department to help ensure that the concerned departments take up the issue and fix fair prices for the Sharjah residents.

Commenting on the unregulated price of cooking gas cylinders in Sharjah, Engineer Tarek Deemas, Manager of the Directorate of the Natural Gas Distribution of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa), told Khaleej Times that Sewa officials are currently looking into the possibility of reducing the actual rate of piped gas to less than Dh1.25 per cubic metre.

Even though the regular hike in the cooking gas cylinders is targeting residents using gas cylinders, a number of Sharjah residents with piped gas supplied to their homes have also expressed concern.

Deemas said: “I would like to clear the common misconception among people that the piped gas offered at Sharjah homes is an environment-friendly natural gas and is not witnessing any increase in price, whereas the cooking gas cylinders are filled with liquid petroleum gas and we have nothing to do with the hike in the price of gas cylinders. We are only responsible for offering a non-profit piped natural gas service.”

Deemas added that 80 per cent of Sharjah buildings and villas are supplied with piped gas and that a few residential buildings in Al Qasimia, Al Nahda and Al Butena are not yet connected to the piped gas network.

He noted that due to a recently issued law, landlords who plan to construct buildings will be obliged to install piped gas or else will never receive water and electricity connections to their buildings.
 
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