No end to petrol crisis in sight

Kathmandu, March 22:

As the serpentine queues at the handful of petrol pumps selling fuel in the city stretched to block traffic, Nepal Oil Corporation officials expressed their helplessness at the current crisis.

The recent fuel scarcity has been caused primarily due to the disturbances at the Birgunj-Raxaul area once again, throwing the lives of average citizens our of gear. A fuel crisis inevitably also has a spiralling effect on the prices of essential goods.

“While normal supply has been affected for the past three weeks due to Terai unrest, fresh disturbances at Birgunj-Raxaul border have caused the recent scarcity as oil tankers are unable to cross the border or reach their destination,” pointed out NOC spokesperson Ichcha Bikram Thapa on Thursday.

He informed that about 66 tankers had been loaded till Thursday morning and were likely to leave for various destinations like Birgunj, Kathmandu and Pokhara. “We are seeking the help of security forces as well as the transport authority for the safe passage of tankers,” he added. The NOC official held out some more hope for people as he claimed some amount of fuel was also coming from the Bhairahawa-UP border.

“But we don’t expect the fuel crisis to be resolved fully any time soon unless the Birgunj disturbances come to an end completely,” maintained Thapa. This is because substantial quantities of petrol is imported via the Birgunj entry point.

Meanwhile, Kathmandu denizens continued to try their luck at various petrol pumps in the city waiting for anywhere between three to ten hours in queues. While the NOC official claimed they were supplying fuel to nine institutional petrol pumps apart from six private ones, sources maintained there were only two or three petrol pumps out of the total 120 stations in the city which were selling fuel at any given point of time.

The NOC official ruled out fears and reports in certain sections of the media that fuel stocks would last only for another two to three days.

“Controlling supply, as we are doing now, will help the stocks to last for 10 to 12 days,” he assured.