Resort operators and businesses across the Maldives have been forced to dramatically alter menus and even temporarily close entire restaurants after weeks of disruptions to the supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
The general manager of one exclusive resort told Minivan News that LPG shortage had created a “food and beverage nightmare” over the last three weeks.
“Comedy of errors”
Maldive Gas, a major supplier of cooking gas to both resort operators and restaurants across the country’s inhabited islands, released a statement (Dhivehi) on Thursday (June 20) saying it expected the LPG issue to be resolved today.
Apologising to its customers, Maldive Gas stated that it had been forced to ration LPG to clients to avoid running out, citing a malfunction in the engine of a cargo vessel bringing a shipment to the Maldives as the reason for the issue.
Asked whether the company had resolved the LPG shortage today as promised, Maldive Gas requested Minivan News contact a company representative at its plant on the island of Thilafushi, who was not responding to calls at time of press.
Speaking to local media today, Maldive Gas Managing Director Ahmed Wafir announced that the company had since removed restrictions over the supply of LPG.
“Gas is now available as it was available from us before, without any limit,” he was quoted as telling Sun Online.
Minivan News understands that other key local suppliers such as Villa Gas have also been affected by the recent LPG shortage. Local businesses that are customers of the company said today they had been informed the issue would be resolved within the next 24 hours.
Despite the supplier’s claims, a resort general manager told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that many of the country’s exclusive island properties had been forced to drastically cut their menus due to a “comedy of errors” by suppliers.
The source claimed suppliers had been experiencing gas shortages even before reports surfaced that a transport vessel had broken down around 200 kilometres from Male’.
According to the general manager, very little information had been given by suppliers over what had led to the rationing, which was having a direct impact on a large number of tourism properties.
“All resorts have been affected from what we’re told, and what I’ve heard from other resorts. This also happened the same time last year and it seems suppliers have not learnt from this,” the resort source claimed.
The general manager said that aside from having to minimise menus, catering staff on the property had been forced to set up barbecues around the resort to try and feed guests, with certain restaurants and an on-site pizza oven out of use for most of the month.
“Needless to say, there have been complaints from guests,” the source responded, when asked about the potential damage the shortage of LPG would have on the Maldives’ reputation as a high-end tourism destination.
The general manager added that although the resort had continued to receive a limited supply of around two bottles of LPG a day during the shortage, this had been insufficient to meet the property’s average daily consumption of eight.
“Suppliers have told us normal service will resume by this evening, I’m about 90 percent certain [it will resume],” the source said.
In Male’, local media reported that a number of cafes and restaurants had also been negatively impacted by gas shortages over the last week, with some even forced to close.
Local businessman Fasy Ismael, the co-owner of several well-known restaurants in the capital including The Sea House Maldives, Jade Bistro and Oxygen, described the challenge of trying to secure LPG as “very scary” for businesses such as his in recent weeks.
“We weren’t sure when we’d get LPG in, and thought we might have to shut down for a couple of days,” he said.
Fasy claimed that even today, his restaurants had only been receiving half the total amount needed to run the businesses.
“For the last week, we haven’t been able to get a full supply from Maldive Gas. Villas Gas has not been able to supply us for two weeks,” he said. “We are lucky we use two different suppliers to meet our needs.”
Fasy said today that both gas suppliers had promised that supply would be returned to normal by tomorrow at the latest.
He said his restaurants had narrowly managed to stay open, thanks to a large reserve stock of 15 bottles.