KATHMANDU, March 2: After stalling imports and retailing of gas for a week, agitating liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottlers and dealers finally agreed to withdraw their strike Tuesday, following an agreement with Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC).
The breakthrough became possible after the bottlers abandoned one of their main demands that asked the government to close entry of new gas companies. As NOC had already consented to fulfill all other demands, the negotiation had revolved around this demand for restrictive policy since last two days.
Nepal LPG Industries Association (NLPGIA) and Nepal LPG Dealers Federation (NLPGDF) announced withdrawal of strike as soon as the agreement was reached. “We will resume import and dealers too will restart retailing from Wednesday,” said Suresh Prajapati, general secretary of NLPGIA.
However, NOC said full-fledged distribution of gas will start only after companies import the fresh lot from the Indian Oil Corporation refineries.
This means, substantial distribution of cooking gas will start only from Friday. Also NOC said that consumers would still need to wait for next 15 days to find supply going normal in the market.
NOC spokesperson Mukunda Dhungel told myrepublica.com that under the agreement, NLPGIA would henceforth inform NOC about any rise in demand in the market at the start of the month, and NOC would take instant steps to arrange IOC step up exports to Nepal accordingly.
“We have already agreed to provide third party insurance coverage for the tankers ferrying LPG within the next one month,” said Dhungel.
As for the option of establishing a new gas company under public-private partnership, which the NOC is exploring of late to share its gas imports rights for commencing imports from the third country, NOC said it will commence further exercise on it by involving the association and the federation in it.
The bottlers and dealers had launched the strike claiming that they were on strike in the interest of consumers and improvement of supplies. But even when NOC arranged the Indian supplier to issue more LPG for Nepal, the bottlers continued with their strike until finally NOC on Tuesday addressed issues of their business interest.