“Things have returned to normal,” Azuay Province Governor Matías Abad said Monday in response to a question about essential supplies reaching Cuenca. “It has taken more than a week since the end of the strike to be able to say this but we are finally overcoming the backlog. The situation with cooking gas has been especially problematic because of limits at the refilling plants, but this too is almost resolved.”
Abad said he has spent most the past week touring food markets, distribution warehouse and sales outlets. “I needed to understand how quickly the city could be resupplied after the road blocks were dismantled,” he said. “I can report that I am extremely impressed with the efficiency of the transport sector and businesses in reestablishing normality.”
Restocking Cuenca was important not just to city residents but to the entire southern sierra region as well as parts of the Amazon, Abad said. “Besides being home to 750,000 people, Cuenca is the distribution center for Azuay, Loja, Cañar and Zamora Chinchipe provinces so the speed products arrived was important for a large part of the country,” he said.
Resupplying the LP gas that Cuenca and the region needs was the biggest post-strike challenge, Abad said. “The 18 days of the strike created a huge shortage and the refilling capabilities of distributors is limited,” he said. Austrogas, the region’s largest refill facility can pack 12,500 cylinders a day while Duragas and Agip pack 10,000.
Andrés Vicuña, Azuay police commander, reported Monday afternoon that the lines of customers waiting at gas distributors and delivery companies are gone. “This was finally resolved and almost all home delivery has resumed, with a few exceptions,” he said.
Vicuña said his officers have responded to hundreds of complaints of price gouging and speculation during the strike and afterward but the numbers are dropping rapidly. “This is always a problem when supplies of food and fuel are limited but we are returning to normal conditions now,” he said. “Market competition is resolving the problem.”