Motorists line up for fuel amid disruption


Sep 21, 2018-

Gasoline lines returned in Kathmandu on Thursday due to a disruption to fuel supplies after tanker drivers went on strike to show solidarity with drivers of public vehicles who have launched a countrywide protest against an amendment to the Criminal Code. Fuel deliveries have stopped from Wednesday, spreading panic among motorists.

Drivers of public vehicles are unhappy over the recently amended Criminal Code which mandates life imprisonment of the driver including confiscation of property in case of death in a traffic accident caused by deliberate intent.

The Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs Association (FNNTEA) has been protesting against the new Criminal Code for the last three days.

As per the amendment to the Criminal Code, drivers can be sentenced to a jail term of three to 10 years in case of death of people in road accidents. Earlier, it was two to 10 years. The amendment has also mandated a fine of Rs30,000 to Rs100,000 in such cases.

Citing the recent hike in petroleum products by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), transport entrepreneurs have also been demanding that the government raise the fare.

Most gasoline stations wore a deserted look on Wednesday. On Thursday, long queues appeared in front of petrol pumps after fuel was distributed. Bhadrakali, Harihar Bhawan, Lagankhel and Sanepa and other places remained crowded the whole day.

“I could not find a spot at Harihar Bhawan, so I went to Ekantakuna but the line there was very long. I finally filled up my tank at Sajha Petrol Pump in Sanepa after waiting for an hour,” said motorcyclist Rajib Khatri of Satdobato.

Sujita Ghimire, who works in a consultancy at Bagbazar, was found standing in a queue at Ripumardini Petrol Pump at Bhadrakali.

She came from Chabahil searching for petrol. “I didn’t find a single petrol pump open on my way. I came to Bhadrakali and waited for two hours to fill my scooter tank,” said Ghimire. She didn’t know the reason behind the shortage.

Kedar Maharjan, in-charge of Mahayana Petrol Pump in Lagankhel, Lalitpur, said there was a rush on gasoline stations because NOC had not supplied fuel for the last two days. According to him, they received 4,000 litres of petrol on Thursday.

NOC spokesperson Birendra Kumar Goit said supplies had been affected after tanker operators refused to transport fuel. “Tanker operators could not be contacted when NOC officials tried to reach them,” Goit said.

According to him, NOC supplied fuel using the few tankers available at the Thankot depot. “We supplied 500 kilolitres to petrol pumps on Thursday,” said Goit, adding that they were holding discussions with government agencies regarding what action should be taken against offending tanker operators.

Goit said the current situation was not a result of the protest by tanker operators over salary and benefits as it was recently hiked.

Khageshwor Bohara, president of the Nepal Petroleum Tankers’ Federation, said NOC had recently hiked the monthly salary of tanker drivers to Rs16,500 from Rs10,000 per month and they would get an allowance of Rs1,800 per trip.

According to Bohara, tanker operators have been prevented from importing fuel from India by a group of public transporters.

Published: 21-09-2018 07:58

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