LPG cylinder explosions tend to increase in our society. The mass media more frequently reported these cases, as if no day without the LPG cylinder explosions. According to Drs. Suharman, M.Si, besides the unprepared cultural social condition of the society, the explosion cases came from the policy and policy-making. Had the conversion policy not require people to switch from kerosene to gas but to coal, the cultural jump is not expected to arise, because they have been familiar with the coal stove. "Because this stove can be used to burn wood charcoal, coconut shell charcoal, and others," he said in the monthly seminar held by the Center for Rural and the Regional Studies on Thursday afternoon (10/6). This time the theme of the seminar was Gas Explosion: Between Cultural Jump and Moral Hazard.
He said that the society was experiencing a shock. Intensive research was being conducted at some colleges about the coal usage and business players were preparing everything for it, but the conversion policy was issued suddenly. The community and many social circles are confused to respond to the unforeseen situations. In fact, many people showed resistance to this policy. "The government, however, sticked to its decision," said the lecturer of Department of Sociology, UGM.
In its implementation, this policy led to many socio-cultural problems. People have indeed been familiar to use kerosene as fuel, because it is easily managed and distributed. In addition, the oil sales system can also be done by retail. "The poor in the city could buy the 0.5 liter if they only have 4000 or 5000 rupiah," he said. With LPG policy, this is not possible to do anymore. LPG cylinders with a minimum size of 3 kg are sold at a price of 15,000 rupiah. "It is impossible for the society to buy 0.5 kg of LPG and bring it home in plastic or cans of milk," Suharman added. Although both are flammable materials, in the view of Suharman, kerosene is much safer than the LPG gas. As a liquid, it is far more recognizable through its form, seeping and trickling nature, and smell while the LPG is only recognizable by its smell.
"On the chemical and physical differences, consequently the safety and effectiveness of LPG usage policy for the poor become another issue. People really are not ready and the technology itself is still debatable," he explained. For Suharman, with many cases of gas explosion, people can argue that the government has blamed it on the socialization problems. A question should be raised, however, about the government’s role as the provider that guarantees all products are safe. "The government should ensure quality control of this product to be reliable," he said.
Quite alarming indeed that now people already depend on the LPG. Those who have switched to gas can no longer use other fuels. Previously, if there was no petroleum, people could still use firewood or charcoal. "Right now, if there is no gas, it’s over. The society has also become powerless in determining prices. Pertamina as the producer is very powerful, even if they increase the price by 10% to 100%, people will not be able to do anything. People’s powerless situation like this has been very often experienced by small community in many ways," concluded this Deputy Head of Center for Rural and Regional Studies of UGM.