Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Letters from Egypt: No Gas in Cairo, Prepare to Walk





UPDATE: There is an application that you can use to locate the nearest gas station with fuel supply, Mawenly. Currently it is only compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later). Android use is supposedly in the works.
 

Did you find it extremely difficult to grab a taxi today around 5 pm when usually there seem to be about 10 taxis per person wandering aimlessly around your neighborhood (not to mention the constant beeps although you’re clearly walking in the opposite direction)?

Did you just give up after seeing random mixed groups all piled high in cabs and start to walk?

Well, unless Cairo gas stations get shipments in the morning, get prepared to put on those walking shoes. Even if the stations get the necessary fuel, chances are there will be limited supply and the lines will be ungodly.

I remembered my colleague mentioning something about the gas shortage during our regular power outage at the office today, but I didn’t really give it a second thought. As I went to drop off some things at home before running to a 5:30 pm appointment, I noticed people at the end of my street beckoning my taxi. I told them I was sorry as I was just dropping things off really quick and noticed they were still waiting for a cab when I came back. I said, “I don’t understand – this is taxi ally. It’s so weird for them to still be waiting for a ride.” My regular taxi driver, Ramy, told me that he went to get benzene at 3:30 am. Even at that time he was forced to wait 1.5 hours to fuel.

My friend Noha had to go to Mohandaseen (about 45 minutes from Maadi) to buy her plane ticket to Dubai. Afterwards she and two other women tried to catch a taxi to return to Maadi. Nothing. The ones that did pass were full of passengers. There weren’t even available microbuses. When this happens, taxi drivers do not operate the way they would in NY whereas if you share a taxi, you share the cost. Here, taxis still charge each individual the same amount. For instance, say you were taking a taxi that normally costs LE 7 and another individual was going the same way, but another location, costing LE 10. The taxi wouldn’t just charge LE 10, with you and the individual splitting the difference. The taxi would get LE 17 total – an LE 7 profit. Of course whenever something like this happens, you can also be assured that the standard price is inflated substantially.

After my appointment, I had dinner plans with the girls. I called them all to tell them of the shortage. While they were able to find a taxi, it still took awhile (this was also around 7:10 pm). And after dinner (9:45 pm) – well, we all ended up walking to our respective destinations.

There are some of you that have flights. There are others that work outside your residential neighborhood. And if the situation isn’t stabilized soon, it will grow even more problematic.

Some might say that Morsi is doing this to stop protestors from gathering on June 30 (with beginnings on June 28); however, people were already planning to walk the length of their starting point to places like Tahrir and Etihadeya – even all the way from the lost colony of Maadi. There has been a fuel shortage for awhile, and I think things are just now coming to a head. I know my heart personally goes out to those truckers and such that spend no less than four hours every day, sometimes twice a day, waiting in line for fuel.

In either case, expect more frustrations as a result – which could mean a longer demonstration period. If gas is low, prices will increase. In an already poor country, you do the math.

And then again, maybe we’ll all wake up in the morning and find fuel. Miracles do happen. I’m not sure if they happen in Egypt, but I’ll keep an open mind. Until then, I'd make sure to wear some comfortable walking shoes.

1 comment:

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