Consumers in the Republic of Congo have been forced to use charcoal for cooking amid a shortage of butane gas in the oil and gas-rich central African nation.
The shortage, which has already lasted over three weeks, is due to a maintenance problem at the offshore Nkossa oil-and-gas field, according to an official at the Congolese hydrocarbons ministry.
“We are now importing the product,” explained the official.
The Republic of Congo — also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo — has substantial fossil-fuel reserves but suffers from widespread poverty and graft.
An AFP journalist found little butane gas is now being sold in the capital Brazzaville, with people waiting long hours for supplies.
Juste Gerant Mambouana, 25, said he had queued from early in the morning until four pm for a cylinder of cooking gas.
He and his family had been cooking on charcoal for three weeks prior, Mambouana said, adding that prices per bag of charcoal have risen from 5,500 FCFA ($8.95, 8.33 euros) to 7,500 FCFA ($12.2, 11.4 euros).
Brazzaville resident Carole Mabassi, 45, despaired of how long the shortage has lasted.
“It’s hard to believe that in a petrol-producing country, people live like in the jungle,” she said.
© Agence France-Presse