Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Natural Gas Emergency in Egypt - Who to contact

Now this was a blog I never thought I'd be writing, but here I am.

For most people in Egypt, natural gas actually running into your home is reserved for the high-end apartments and villas. Generally speaking, Egyptian kitchens will feature the "ambouba," or gas canister. The first time I saw a truck hauling a load of these I wondered how that could ever be safe, but as you live here you learn not to question such silly notions.

The other day while walking out of the apartment building, I noticed what seemed like the smell of leaking gas. Seeing as how I was outside, I immediately thought that the apartment on the lower floor by the door had left their ambouba running in their kitchen. Our doorman was notified, who said that it was the bug spray that had been  dispersed the night before.

You're probably questioning now how you could ever mistake the smell of gas for bug spray. Well, the stuff they use here you definitely can. No idea what it is they are spraying, but that toxic cloud smells like you've stuck your head inside an unlit oven. It dissipates quickly, however, so when by the next day I was still smelling it, it became evident that unless they were continuing to spray every single day it was not bug spray.

K and I went to have a conversation with our doorman again, who said "oh yes there was a smell of gas, but it was checked out and everything was ok!" By checked out what he really meant was: our building landlord had gone in the vicinity of the source of the smell and light a match. Genius. Figuring that because he hadn't gone up in flames, the gas was no threat.

Erm. Ok...

We get back into our apartment, and I tell Karim that we should phone someone, anyone, to come and check it. Originally I was figuring that the fire department would handle something like this,but it turns out there are actually emergency services for gas in Egypt. I suppose in hindsight it's not that surprising with how much gas is exported out of the country.

I figured initially that this would be like any other "emergency" service in Egypt: you'd be waiting forever to have anyone respond; you're going to be dealing with rude and abrupt individuals; and at the end of the day you'd have been better off not even bothering to phone.

How wrong was I! (Very happy to report this!!)

Once K had tracked down the Natural Gas Emergency hotline (which in itself was quite a feat - the number listed on Yellow Pages DOES NOT WORK) we phoned. Bear in mind this was on a Friday, and in the evening, so we presumed that the phone would probably go unanswered or the issue delayed for a day.

Wrong again!

A car was sent to our address within 30 minutes of the call. Everyone we dealt with was polite and more than willing to help. Turns out we did have a gas leak - from the line that had been installed less than a few months ago that will one day provide natural gas to the entire apartment (I aptly told Karim that I think sticking with our ambouba for now is wise - doesn't bode well when a newly installed line is already leaking!).

After two trips out here by the Natural Gas Emergency personnel, our leak has been sealed and yipee I have fresh air to breath again.

So if you ever find yourself in need of the Egypt Natural Gas Emergency lines, here they are:

From a landline dial: 129. It's best if you have an Arabic speaker with you.

From a cell phone dial: 016 55 44 003 OR 016 55 44 004

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