Respite for some as fuel stations supply petro products

Kathmandu, July 30:

A few vehicle owners heaved a sigh of relief today as Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) supplied half the amount of petroleum products required in the Kathmandu Valley.

Petroleum supply had been halted for two days as private depots did not collect fuel from Thankot fearing insecurity. Private petrol pumps today collected their quota of fuel as NOC assured them of security.

According to the NOC, petrol pumps in the Kathmandu Valley today distributed 204 kilolitres of petrol, 240 kl of diesel and 192 kl of kerosene against the usual demand of 250 kl of petrol, 300 kl of diesel and 200 kl of kerosene.

The distribution comes amidst the long-standing supply deficit, which has pushed the demand to an unprecedented height.

The NOC imported only about 30,000 kl of petroleum products from July 1 to 28, which means supply remained at less than half the projected 70,000 kl of the monthly fuel demand.

This has hit life: Serpentine queues at petrol pumps are a common site and with less than half vehicles plying the roads, even the tops of vehicles are crammed with commuters.

Hari Khanal, a school teacher, said he has started buying petrol in black market as he failed to get petrol from Pulchowk pump where he waited in line for two days. College teacher Sushank KC said he had hoarded 25 litres of petrol when he got it at a ‘cheaper’ rate: Rs 150 per litre. “I used to pay Rs 180 earlier,” he said.

Janak Parajuli of Bal Sewa Griha Satdobato said all their five LPG cylinders were empty and they were using firewood instead. Som Dahal said he had been queuing up since 9 am outside a petrol pump in Baneshwor and was hopeful that he would get some petrol by 5 pm.

Kush Kumar Joshi, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the industrial sector had been paralysed due to the lack of fuel.

“The industrial environment in the country is not good. You see, there are bandhs and protests everywhere. This cannot go on for long. The government has either to make adjustments in fuel prices or continue making up for the losses NOC has been incurring which is not possible,” he said. “Once the new government is formed, we will have a talk with it. Our team has prepared a list of suggestions.”

Joshi said alternative energy sources should be explored. He said the Petroleum Dealers’ Association had only postponed its protests. He called on vehicle-owners on queue to take to the streets.

Asked when the fuel supply would ease, deputy director of Nepal Oil Corporation Mukunda Dhungel said people would be relieved of this magnitude of hardships for at least a month if they got the money promised by the government on time.