BIRATNAGAR, May 17: Series of strikes and shutdowns called by different political groups in recent weeks have spurred shortage of petroleum products in the eastern region.
As strikes affected import as well as distribution of fossil fuel, customers were seen traveling to different refilling station hoping to get fuel. The shortage has even hit police patrol. According to Nepal Police, even its CRV vans have been languishing in garage due to fuel shortage.
“Instead of running after criminals and controlling crimes, we are running in search of fuel,” said Police Inspector Durgaraj Regmi.
There are around 400 petrol pumps in the region, but most of them have shut down hanging ´no petrol´ and ´no diesel´ signs. The daily consumption of petroleum products amounts to 400 kiloliters (KL) in the region.
“We don´t have even a liter of petrol because Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) hasn´t issued supply for the past five days,” said Sudip Dhungel, an employee of AB Petroleum Dealers, Kanchanbari.
NOC Regional Office in Biratnagar has announced that it has 1,700 KL of diesel and 200 KL of petrol in stock. It also claimed that some 300 KL of petrol and 1,200 KL of diesel were on the way from India. However, tankers ferrying fossil fuel are yet to reach arrive at the eastern trading hub.
“We are planning to deliver all petroleum products directly into the market by late Monday, as Tuesday is a public holiday. I hope we will be able to stick to the plan,” NOC Regional Director Mukunda Prasad Ghimire told Republica.
Consumers in the eastern region have been facing shortage of petroleum products since mid-April after Indian Oil Corporation (NOC) -- the sole supply of fuel to Nepal --decided to cut supplies.
During the period, daily import of petroleum products decreased from 400 KL to 100 KL. As NOC tried to maintain supply by using stock, its reserves have deteriorated sharply.
Prior to the cut, NOC had a stock of 560 KL of petrol and 8,900 KL of diesel at its regional depot in Biratnagar. The present stock is sufficient to maintain supplies only for three days.