ITAHARI: Around 80 per cent of vehicles in the eastern region are off the roads due to the ongoing stir of petrol pump employees, who owe their allegiance to the Unified-CPN-Maoist.

The fuel stations have been shut since last Wednesday.

“Public transport services will come to a standstill if we don’t get fuel at the earliest. Our businesses have been hit hard,” said Shankar Ghimire, secretary, Koshi Zone, Nepal National Transport Entrepreneurs (NNTE).

Around 5,000 vehicles, which include both public and private, ply in the Koshi Zone.

A meeting, between representatives of agitating employees and the employers, was put off today since Arbind Sharma, an NNTE member, failed to reach Biratnagar — the talks’ venue — on time due to the Tarai bandh called by the Matrika Yadav-led CPN-Maoist.

Sharma, however, exuded confidence that the deadlock would be resolved tomorrow.

Govinda Prasad Rijal, chairman, eastern region, All Nepal Petroleum Workers’ Association, echoed him, maintaining that

they were on the verge

of an agreement.

The understanding

was reportedly reached during an informal meeting, organised by Petroleum Dealers’ Association, Mechi, yesterday.

“We’re in favour of burying the hatchet at the

earliest. Unfortunately, the talks couldn’t be held today due the Tarai bandh. Hopefully, we’ll be able to set aside our differences tomorrow,” he added.

The ongoing strike has led to the closure of more than 400 gas stations and depots in the eastern

region. More than 1,000 people are involved in the agitation. They have come up with a 17-point charter of demands.

Meanwhile, the shutdown of petrol pumps have contributed to escalating cost of fuel across the

region. Consumers are forced to cough up Rs 200 for a litre of petroleum product in Itahari, Inaruwa, Dharan, Damak and other urban settlements.

They have urged the

administration to take stern action against the black marketers.