January 26, 2024

Guinea Fuel Explosion Kills 24 People, Disrupting Daily Life

Government issues state of emergency amid the challenge of surviving in the 21st century without fuel

by an Alliance international worker serving with aXcess in Guinea

Imagine waking up to discover there was no fuel available anywhere in the country. The gas remaining in your car─assuming you own one─is all that you’ll have for the foreseeable future. Maybe you rush to a gas station only to find dozens of other vehicles waiting at closed pumps with no attendants in sight. You begin to wonder how you’ll get to work and how your kids will get to school. As the days drag on, there are fewer and fewer cars on the road as tanks go dry.

This has been our host country’s reality for the past month. On December 18 at 1 a.m., Guinea’s fuel depot in downtown Conakry (where our family lives) exploded. Two dozen people were killed, over 170 were injured, and hundreds became homeless as they fled the surrounding area. The country went into a state of emergency as the government tried to grapple with the unprecedented challenge of surviving in the 21st century without gas. Officials immediately ordered the closure of all service stations to conserve what little fuel was left and announced significant power cuts in the coming days.

Living with Uncertainty

People held their breath for a few days following the explosion, waiting to see if this was the beginning of a terrorist attack or coup. Students missed weeks of class because no one, teachers or students, could get to school. Many businesses have been closed or unable to function without electricity. Throughout the country, farmers feared losing their crops because they can’t run their generators to pump water and irrigate their fields. As is often the case here, the future has seemed unclear.

Consequently, the last month has held many unknowns for us and especially for the people we serve. This crisis is a poignant example of what daily life is like here. It isn’t a given that life will continue the way it has been. The things you rely on could very well be gone tomorrow. The only real certainty is that the future is uncertain.

God’s Goodness Shines Through

Yet during this disaster, the Lord has provided. Violent demonstrations have been minimal, the church quickly mobilized to help meet the needs of those most directly impacted by the explosion, and last week a fuel carrier arrived in port.

In addition, despite having no clue about how the crisis would impact our semester and not knowing whether our students would even be able to come to class, we had almost 150 new enrollees at our educational center. Classes are also steadily filling up for the coming semester. Even those who visit our home to read Scripture haven’t stopped coming!

Although the fire has been extinguished, the future is still unknown, and the full implications of the disaster have yet to be realized. Yet amid the uncertainty, we are praising God for His provision and safety. We are confident that He will provide and that this challenge will grant opportunities to demonstrate His love and care to people who don’t yet know Him. Please join us in praying for Guinea and the Guineans we serve as they continue to navigate this crisis!