Shortage forces valley’s gas stations to innovateWednesday afternoon at half past two, Thakur Ram Karki, manager of Valley Rikesh Suppliers, Gairigaon, was getting ready to start the second shift at his gasoline station to sell diesel.
Wednesday afternoon at half past two, Thakur Ram Karki, manager of Valley Rikesh Suppliers, Gairigaon, was getting ready to start the second shift at his gasoline station to sell diesel.
With frantic motorists in the Kathmandu Valley mobbing gasoline stations due to the perennial shortage, he has adopted a policy of selling petrol in the morning and diesel in the afternoon to keep queues to a minimum, he said.
“We receive 6,000 to 12,000 litres of petrol daily, but we run out of stock six hours after opening,” said Karki. “We then have to pull down the shutters.”
Many gasoline stations in the valley had hung signs saying ‘No Petrol’ and ‘No Diesel’ on Wednesday. A long queue of motorists could be seen in front of the petrol pump run by the Nepal Police at Naxal and Sajha Petrol Pump at Pulchok from early in the morning. Such long lines of worried motorists were a regular feature during the Indian embargo lasting four and a half months when gasoline shipments from the southern neighbour were cut drastically. The blockade ended in February, but the queues are still there.
State-owned oil monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has been receiving an unrestricted supply of petroleum products from its supplier Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) since the blockade was lifted.
“But IOC stopped shipments for two days last week which forced us to cut deliveries to the market,” said Mukunda Ghimire, spokesperson for NOC. According to him, IOC had informed NOC that its Raxaul depot had run out of stock due to delays in shipments from other parts of India.
“Moreover, one of the two storage tanks at the Raxaul depot is undergoing maintenance so only one tank has been in operation for the past month. This means there is limited chance of the supply being increased,” he said.
Ghimire said that NOC distributed 472 kilolitres of petrol on Tuesday and would be issuing 500 kilolitres each on Wednesday and Thursday. According to him, the shortage should ease on Thursday.
The valley’s normal daily requirement of petrol amounts to 250 kilolitres. Demand surged to 500 kilolitres daily during the blockade apparently due to panic buying, and it has continued to remain on the higher side since then, according to NOC.