Capital stares at shortage of essentialsKathmandu has started witnessing the shortage of some of the essential goods, including vegetables and petroleum products, as a result of prolonged strikes in Tarai. This has jacked up the prices of essentials, particularly that of vegetables.
Kathmandu has started witnessing the shortage of some of the essential goods, including vegetables and petroleum products, as a result of prolonged strikes in Tarai. This has jacked up the prices of essentials, particularly that of vegetables.
Onion shipments have stopped for the last few days, leading to shortage in the market and a surge in average retail price to Rs115 from Rs75 per kg three weeks ago. Prices of other vegetables such as potatoes, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, green garlic have also shot up considerably over the period. With the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) struggling to maintain smooth supply of petroleum products, the ‘No Petrol’ notices have become a common sight at many petrol pumps in Kathmandu Valley.
The NOC said it has 1,108 kl of petrol and 6,800 kl of diesel in stock at its Thankot depot that can meet Valley’s fuel demand for only about a week. According to NOC, 99 fuel-laden tankers have been stuck in Raxaul, India because of the ongoing strikes by disgruntled forces over delineation of provinces in new constitution.
The Department of Customs (DoC) said that more than 3,500 trucks laden with the imported daily essentials and industrial raw materials have been stranded in Nepal-India border areas. “Even the truck drivers who have already cleared customs are too terrified to drive along the route,” said Shishir Dhungana, director general of the Department of Customs. With trade routes in the north—Totopani and Rasuwagadhi—being damaged by the recent earthquakes and landslides, disruption in supply from the southern plains will have direct impact on pricing of essentials and other goods.
Thousands of goods-laden vehicles have been stuck at different customs points in the country for over a week, including 1,600 containers in Birgunj, according to the Customs Department. It added that around 540 loaded trucks from various customs check points, including 200 from Bhairahawa and 152 from Birgunj, had headed for the Capital with security escort on Wednesday.
Just as the ongoing protests in Tarai is beginning to pinch the Capital, government agencies said they are doing everything in their power to keep the supply chain smooth.
Shambhu Koirala, director general at the Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCS), said the Commerce Ministry held talks with concerned authorities on Tuesday to ease supply. “The meeting has decided to ferry the loaded trucks with escort from security forces,” he said, urging the petroleum dealers to keep stock as per their capacity.
The NOC sells 317 kl of petrol and 350-400 kl diesel a day in the Valley. NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka said they had shipped 328kl of petrol and 350kl of diesel to Kathmandu over the past two days. But there has been shortage of petroleum products in the market. “It is probably due to hoarding,” said Khadka. “We will start market inspection from Thursday to ease the petroleum supply.” It has also assured smooth supply of the LPG, saying that 23 bullets of cooking gas entered the Valley on Tuesday and as many LPG bullets due to reach the Valley on late Wednesday. The Valley needs around 19,000 tonnes of LPG a month.