Motorists crowd pumps over fuel shortage fears

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The state-owned oil monopoly says there is no fuel shortage

Apr 19, 2017-Valley motorists, used to besieging gasoline stations at the slightest hint of a shortage, have been crowding the few open pumps for the past few days while Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) issued its customary notice that all was well.

The state-owned oil monopoly said there was no fuel shortage even though there were many private gasoline stations displaying ‘No Petrol’ signs as of Tuesday. 

NOC said that the rush at petrol pumps was caused by panic buying following reports that Madhes-based political parties had refused to take part in local elections slated for May 14 and announced a series of protest programmes including a Tarai banda. 

NOC Spokesperson Sitaram Pokharel said the corporation had been issuing fuel in adequate quantities. “People do not have to worry about a shortage as deliveries are being made regularly,” said Pokharel. According to him, NOC sold 550 kilolitres of petrol on Monday and 500 kilolitres on Tuesday. 

However, this is hardly enough to meet the daily requirement. As per the state-owned enterprise, demand for petrol has surged in recent days from 400 kilolitres to 500 kilolitres. Compared to the import of 28,515 kilolitres of petrol from mid-July to mid-August, consumption has swelled to 36,428 kilolitres from mid-March to mid-April. 

Fuel shortages are usually seen in the Valley after a long weekend. NOC was closed on Friday due to the New Year’s Day holiday and Saturday is the weekend. With no deliveries being made for two consecutive days, gasoline stations went dry. Manoj Karki, a two-wheeler owner who was found waiting for his turn to buy petrol at Trilochan Enterprise, Panipokhari, said he had been queuing up for more than half an hour to refill his tank. According to him, he came to buy extra fuel citing a possible short supply due to political protests.

Trilochan Enterprise said there were adequate supplies. “A shortage might have been created due to panic buying,” said an attendant at the petrol pump. 

Raju Magar, an attendant at Valley Fuel Centre, Gyaneshwor, said that they had not been receiving adequate stocks. “We received only 4,000 kilolitres in the past three days,” he said. 

Consumer rights activists slammed NOC for creating a shortage. Prem Lal Maharjan, president of the National Consumer Forum, said the corporation should distribute fuel on public holidays too to prevent shortages that appear time after time. 

“NOC has violated the Petroleum Transaction Bylaw 2008 which says that essential products should be sold even during public holidays.”

Maharjan said that he suspected petroleum dealers of being involved in creating an artificial shortage. 

Published: 19-04-2017 08:01

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