Dear Sri Lanka,

By Dilshani Palugaswewa | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

By Dilshani Palugaswewa

Know the word for manipulating consumers who’ve been using the same products for years, into questioning their own sanity?  

Yes, it’s called ‘gas’lighting. 

While there has been an unusual increase in explosions of domestic gas cylinders around the country, within just the last few weeks, gas companies like to insist there is no fault on their part but rather in the way consumers have been handling their cylinders at home.  

Perhaps, they just assume we would buy into the story that those very people who don’t have enough fingers to count how many years they’ve been handling the same task for, just collectively started mishandling their gas cylinders with substandard regulators, tubes and whatever else they suppose is the cause of the problem. While I understand there is some truth to this, and these components do need to be changed on the regular and needs maintaining, they cannot expect us to believe all these happenings is a spate of coincidental misfortune.   

“The recent incidents and confusion that have occurred have been caused by the use of inferior quality regulators, hoses, cookers and user negligence,” read their defence statement.  

What exactly is the ‘confusion’ here though? Unless their definition of this word means, destroyed cookers, blown up kitchens and injured people as a result of faulty gas cylinders that they distributed, there really is no confusion here. Just a change in the propane and butane ration which the potential to cause a leak through the regulator or hose of a gas cylinder, according to three expert reports, which the companies failed to announce. 

The State-owned gas company however did introduce a consumer hotline to report any issues regarding domestic LP gas or gas cylinders but I fail to see how effective this is when every household has a literal ticking time bomb and just using it itself is an ‘issue’?  

And no, the issue has not been blown out of proportion like the companies and their supporters suggest, in fact it is quite literally their cylinders that is blowing out of proportion. What’s worse is that these companies initially showed no remorse or responsibility until they had to – or perhaps they would still say there is absolutely no problem with their cylinders and that’s why they have temporarily suspended islandwide distribution – and they are more than comfortable pinning the blame on the consumer, even after one causality, several damages to property and instilling fear among the public.  

Meanwhile, allegations were flying all over the place with different MPs coming up with various conspiracy theories from saying all this is a way to get the public to reduce the usage of gas to some MPs calling for investigation as it is a matter of national security. And then there are some who just respond to questions on the matter in a responsible manner. “Ask a different question. LPG is somewhat explosive.” So basically, because gas is an explosive, it is meant to explode and if it blows up in your face, don’t complain.  

As it is, people had to deal with price hikes for basic necessities such as milk powder, and bakery products, and now they have to look into other ways of cooking a simple meal. Not everyone can turn to firewood or induction cookers. So really, how does this Government expect the common man to survive this never-ending phase of can’t-help-it-if-you-are-not-rich mentality?  

Sincerely, 

It is more than just these ‘gas’trophes 

By Dilshani Palugaswewa | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

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