It would seem that Gazans are willing to go to great lengths to enjoy the taste of Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe for fried chicken.
Never mind that it takes 4 hours to get to the customers (which sort of defeats the whole idea of fast food). Never mind that the French fries arrive soggy and that the chicken is no longer crunchy. Or that it costs a whopping $30 a meal (3 times the usual price) due to the delivery costs. “It has been a dream, and this company has made my dream come true,” says Mr. Shororo, one of the Gazans receiving a delivery, according toYahoo! News.
“It’s our right to enjoy that taste the other people all over the world enjoy,” said Khalil Efrangi, 31, who started Yamama (Arabic for Pigeon), the delivery smuggling service that gets KFC fried chicken into Gaza.
According to The Telegraph a typical run for the company is about 30 deliveries. “We place the order with the restaurant in El-Arish, then drive it in a car to the Egyptian side of Rafah” said Efrangi, then “someone takes it from there through the tunnels to (Gazan) Rafah. They then drive it to our headquarters (in Gaza City).”
This new idea did not start out as a business plan but rather as the result of a momentary hankering for KFC fried chicken. A number of the Yamama employees ordered from KFC from Egyptian Al-Arish and had it delivered to them within 3 hours. “Then we asked ourselves, ‘Why don’t we provide this service for Gazans?'” said Mohammed al-Madani, financial manager for Yamama.
After the order is placed and paid for with a wire transfer, the meals travel over 20 miles from the Al-Arish KFC branch to Rafah and are then handed over to boys who smuggle them under the border through tunnels. They are then picked up by another cab driver who takes them all the way to Gaza City for distribution.
The process has raised its share of eyebrows though. “I wonder why people pay a lot of money to buy a small meal of chicken,” asks smuggler Abu Iyad. “I can buy four chickens for the price of one meal”.
Still, Abu Iyad is not complaining since this new hankering has given the smuggling business a shot in the arm. “The tunnel business is not like before, things are going worse and barely work, especially after the Egyptian army started to tear down the tunnels,” says Abu Iyad.
Between Egypt’s attempts to shut down illegal smuggling tunnels and Israel’s relaxing of its embargo, smugglers can no longer charge the premiums they did only 3 years ago. Where once a meal like this would cost $200, today the smugglers consider themselves lucky if they can get $20.
What’s more, Mr. Efrangi’s operation may soon find itself with some serious competition that is likely to put an end to this smuggling service. According to the New York Times, Adeeb al-Bakri, who owns four KFC and Pizza Hut franchises in the West Bank, said that he has working out the detail for opening a restaurant in Gaza.
When told about the smuggling operation and the 4 hour delivery time Mr. Bakri simply said “We dump it after half an hour”.
Smuggling KFC Chicken Strips Into the Gaza Strip