With the waiting time for cooking gas cylinders touching even 10 days in some parts of the city, Indane customers are panicking and are badgering their respective agencies for refills. A customer in Thiruvanmiyur said that he was used to getting refills in under three days, but now the oil marketing company (OMC), has sent him a message saying the next delivery would be in eight days.
Distributors said they are bogged down by calls from customers. “Some of them are even bringing the cylinders on their own asking for refills. People are calling saying cooking at their home had to be stopped midway due to the cylinder getting empty,” said a distributor, whose current backlog is five or six days.
Although many customers have two cylinders, most of them are used to same day delivery and therefore they were not making bookings ahead of demand.
Consumer activist T. Sadagopan said that such delays in delivery of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, an essential commodity, only showed bad planning on the part of the OMC. “Even during the lockdown and flood, it managed without so much delay. Commercial cylinders are given at discounted rates. But the company does not seem to be bothered about domestic consumers and is making them wait for cylinders,” he pointed out.
Sources said that several reasons, including shortage of fresh cylinders, labour and transportation issues at the bottling plant in Ennore led to these delays.
“Since February and March, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., whose popular brand is Indane, has been facing problems with availability of empty cylinders. After an accident involving a worker in the plant when the bottom of a cylinder burst, the company decided to pull out old and rusted cylinders from the system. When the company and distributors started doing this, replacements had to be purchased. But they did not come in fast enough, causing the backlog,” said an industry source.
“The average backlog, as it is known, has risen from one day last month to 5 days in Chennai region and 3 days in the rest of the State. However, fresh cylinders have been arriving in batches and the backlog will come down shortly,” said a company source.