Commuters in Cambodia are no strangers to road obstacles and traffic hazards, which range from necessary from outrageously funny. From construction materials to motorised vehicles precariously balanced on the back of a tuk-tuk, to live animals and beloved pets, nonchalantly ‘surfing’ in the front of a motorcycle. As such, commuters often turn a blind eye on the danger that one particular load, because of its role in keeping the heart of the home and many businesses alive – gas tanks for the kitchen.
From tiny canisters used by street side vendors to larger tanks used by commercial kitchens, these much needed fuel can be delivered anywhere in the city – a convenience that helps cut the cost of running a business, and saves many households from having to go through the hassle of going out and hauling a 15-kilogram tank up several flights of stairs. As convenient as it is, precautions must be taken as the load in question contains pressurised, liquefied natural gases (LNG) – the volatility of which, need not be questioned.
A single mishap in delivery, or a slight miscalculation during the refilling process (which, as unrecommended as it is, is still often done in-store by the vendors themselves) could cause injuries, fatalities, and extensive damages to a property. Add to the fact that these deliveries are often made on motorbikes that has to navigate the traffic of Phnom Penh’s urban areas – where the roads are small and winding, and traffic regulations are often flat-out ignored – the risk of such incidents exponentially rises as soon as the deliverymen makes their rounds.
That said, these deliverymen continue to make their rounds, risking their lives for their bowls of rice. Some say, it is a risk that they would have to take as without their risky rounds, there will be no fuel to the heart of the homes. But as traffic gets more chaotic and demands for gas continue to climb, perhaps it is ripe time to think of a safer transportation solution – for cooking rice, does not necessarily have to come with the added risk of an explosion.