The good news for Cuencanos is that the city received new shipments of propane gas. The bad news is that it wasn’t enough and sold out within hours of going on sale. Officials say that more is en route.
Half a dozen gas tankers arrived early Saturday morning, part of 115-truck convoy that required an army escort through road blocks in the Yunguilla Valley.
According to Azuay Province Governor Xavier Martínez, the convoy was the result of successful negotiations with some protesting groups blocking the Machala-to-Cuenca highway as well as the forcible removal of other blockages.
Regional gas distributor AustroGas, which spent Saturday morning downloading gas to cylinders, announced that customers could buy gas in seven locations (see graphic), one tank per customer with a valid cedula. Long lines were reported at all locations and most customers left disappointed when it was announced that supplies had run out.
Martínez said new shipments are on the way but did not say when they would arrive or when customers could restock.
AustroGas said there would be no home delivery until further notice. It also said that hospitals and health clinics would be given priority if supplies run short.
Martínez said that truck convoys, escorted by the armed forces, will continue to deliver gas and other critical goods to Cuenca as long as road blockages continue. “We are establishing humanitarian corridors to bring supplies to Azuay Province and most of the protesters who maintain roadblocks are supportive of the plan,” he said. “Those who are in defiance will be subject to arrest and their roadblocks will be dismantled.”
Customers will be charged $1.60 for a full gas tank when in exchange for an empty tank.
In addition to LP gas, the Saturday morning convoy delivered food and gasoline.