Friday, February 03, 2012

Sinai Egyptians rioting because butane cylinders smuggled to Gaza

From Al Masry Al Youm:
Minya residents protesting the shortage of butane gas cylinders blocked train traffic in Upper Egypt Thursday.

“Resident gathered at 9:50 am on Thursday on railways of Malateya station, located between Maghagha and Bani Mazar stations,” head of the Egypt Railways Authority Hani Hegab said in a statement.

Hegab called on citizens to end the protests, saying they hinder other people’s interests and cause the authority huge losses. Demonstrators in various towns have repeatedly disrupted rail traffic over the past year to call attention to various problems.

Hundreds of Gerga City residents in Assiut blocked the rails on Wednesday for almost seven hours, saying that gas cylinders are being sold for eight times their actual value of around LE6.50.
What the newspaper doesn't say is the reason for the shortage - because the cylinders are being smuggled to Gaza.

As Al Wafd reported earlier this week, there isn't so much a butane shortage as a cylinder shortage. Gangs have been forcibly taking the cylinders and smuggling them to Gaza, where the price is higher than even the Egyptian black market.

This is not a new problem. Here is a report from last June, where Assistant Secretary General for North Sinai Governorate Maj. Gen. Jaber Al-Arabi said that the reason for the continuing crisis of butane gas cylinders is due to the their smuggling through the tunnels into the Gaza Strip, which leads to shortages and increased demand.