Nepal | July 04, 2020

Fuel shortage keeps shoppers away

Pushpa Raj Acharya
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In this recent photograph, vehicles queue up to fill fuel at Bhadrakali of Kathmandu. Photo: THT

In this recent photograph, vehicles queue up to fill fuel at Bhadrakali of Kathmandu. Photo: THT

Kathmandu, October 15

The markets of Kathmandu, which normally would be bustling around the festive season, are facing a harsh situation as sales of almost all items, from clothing, footwear, gadgets and electronic equipment have recorded a sharp decline. This is due to the scarcity of fuel, which in turn has affected the mobility of shoppers. Many restaurants have already pulled down their shutters after the crisis of liquefied petroleum gas, commonly known as cooking gas.

Gunja Bahadur KC, who has been operating Gunjao Shopping Centre at Khichapokhari, Newroad since the last five years, says he has never witnessed such a dreary situation during the festive season. “The daily sales have plummeted by over 60 per cent as very few shoppers are visiting the market,” KC said, adding, “With the shortage of fuel and other daily essentials, people are more focused on managing their daily needs.”

KC believes that sales will increase if the fuel supply smoothens. As per him, the flow of shoppers has gone up a bit since yesterday as fuel stations had distributed fuel to private vehicles on Tuesday, which eased the mobility of people to some extent.

Those who visit the market for Dashain shopping might see that there is no shortage of clothing, footwear and other fancy items. However, the choices on offer are limited and might even be considered ‘out of fashion’ because Nepal-bound cargoes have been stranded at the Kolkata port and India-Nepal border points since long due to the continuous obstruction in the movement of vehicles from India to Nepal.

Manoj Shrestha, president of Khichapokhari Newroad Business Association, said it is unlikely that the traders will be able to sell clothes and footwear that were ordered from third countries and India eyeing the festive season. Echoing KC, he also opined that the flow of shoppers has increased slightly after the filling stations distributed fuel to private vehicles.

Similar is the situation facing traders engaged in sales of electronics and gadgets, despite ample attractive offers to lure consumers. With the demand for electronics and gadgets soaring in the recent years, traders who were expecting booming sales during festive season, have been left high and dry.

“The sales of gadgets have declined about 70 per cent as compared to the festive season of the previous fiscal,” said Sudarshan Poudel of Samriddhi Trade Link at Pako, Newroad. “Gadget sellers, who were waiting desperately for the festive season to make up for the losses incurred after the devastating earthquake of April, are largely disappointed with the current sales.”

Though the fuel shortage has disappointed sellers of luxury goods, sales of daily essentials like rice, lentils, salt, oil and dry food, among others have peaked in the domestic market following the unofficial embargo imposed by the Indian government on movement of vehicles from India to Nepal.

As per Pabitra Man Bajracharya, president of Nepal Retailers’ Association, wholesale rates of daily essentials like rice, lentils and oil have been increasing every week since four weeks. “Though the government has been claiming that there would be no shortage of food items for another three months, it continues to remain silent about the sky-rocketing market price of the daily essentials,” Bajracharya said. He further informed that shortage of some commodities like edible oil, among others, has already been witnessed in the market.

A version of this article appears in print on October 16, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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