The drivers of cities like Yamoussourko or Abidjan, in The Ivory Coast, are increasingly using butane gas as an alternative fuel to replace the very expensive gasoline. Experts have already warned of the dangers of this widespread practice.
To fight environmental destruction and pollution, the Ivorian state has encouraged the domestic use of Butane gas instead of firewood and charcoal. And the result was positive if one looks at the long queues of people in places that sell this type of fuel. Demand is stronger than supply. There are many families who have changed their habits and have adopted butane gas as home energy.
But this fact, which should be an engine of development and modernity, is deviating from its original purpose and is becoming a danger to consumers and the country in general. Why?
Everyone knows that the political-military crisis that the country has suffered since September 2002 after the military coup of September 1999 has been accompanied by deleterious consequences for a country that was the economic engine of Western Africa, and did have to suffer a very sharp slowdown in economic growth.
We must remember that The Ivory Coast fell from occupying the position 164 to 166 in the world poverty ranking, out of a total of 177, ie falling two places. This is recognized in the global Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Suddenly, all over the country and to avert the endemic unemployment and the increasing impoverishment of the population, everyone has sharpened the wits and began to make a living. Job seekers, retired people or new age businessmen took to the streets to offer their services in public or intercity transportation.
That is the case of Diomande Mory, a former analyst programmer for a bank that went bankrupt, who is now a recycled driver. His employer demands him a daily income of between 20,000 and 25,000 CFA francs. This is the fate of many who chose the same path that Diomande. How? It is not easy, says Diomande and his new colleagues.
He explains that the price of petrol has been continously increasing. "The bosses close their eyes to this reality and continue to squeeze us with rage as if we were lemons," he says. The result is that workers have it very difficult to collect the revenues their bosses demand. Should they go on strike against the intransigence of their bosses? Or should they resign themselves to the risk of ending as beasts of burden?
The problem is that these employers of drivers always have the possibility of finding another driver from the thousands of hungry people trying to find a living in cities. So for fear of losing their precarious jobs, many drivers in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro, and other cities have installed in their cars a container that can hold a butane gas cylinder that feeds the engine.
In the country's political capital, reports reveal that out of the 1,152 taxis in circulation, more than 30% works with domestic gas. And the fact is that, according to those who use this fuel, it is cheaper than petrol or diesel. In the Yamoussoukro neighborhood of Morofe, Moussa K., driver, tells us that "with the butane gas as fuel we earn good money, whereas in the past, with gasoline, we didn't get a single franc."
The evidence is as follows: "With 150,000 CFA francs of butane gas for a week, we get an income of between 20,000 and 25,000 CFA francs a day. While those who use petrol or diesel, can barely make 12,000 francs per day. "
In addition to drivers and carriers, more and more private drivers are choosing butane gas instead of traditional fuel in their vehicles. And all this despite being aware of the danger of this election.
According to experts, a car not suitable for the use of butane gas as fuel involves a high risk of fire. Moreover, users of the road, although aware of the risk they run and make others run, deliberately violate the law 92-469 of 30 July 1992 on fraud prevention in storage and distribution of petroleum products .
Although this use is prohibited and coercive measures exist, motorists are taking advantage of the carelessness of the authorities to participate in this dangerous "game." Some sporadic enforcement actions can not stop this trend. Everybody knows that the Ivorian parliament passed a law to prohibit the use of gas in cars, known as "autogas". And that they might be sent to prison, from 15 days to a year, and forced to pay a fine ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 francs CFA.
Awareness campaigns of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the repressive provisions that already exist are ignored. Does the end justify the means? In other words, the fight against poverty must, in the case of drivers, imply violation of the law of the Republic?