‘Panic buying’ prompts gas stations to ration fuelGas stations in Kathmandu Valley have once again started rationing petrol and diesel, as the problem of fuel shortage triggered by inadequate supply of petroleum products deepened, with motorists scurrying up to refill their empty tanks.
Gas stations in Kathmandu Valley have once again started rationing petrol and diesel, as the problem of fuel shortage triggered by inadequate supply of petroleum products deepened, with motorists scurrying up to refill their empty tanks.
On Friday, most of the private refilling stations looked deserted, as the sign of ‘No Petrol’ hung on their padlocked gates, while gas stations run by Sajha and security forces, which were distributing fuel, saw serpentine queues.
As demand for petrol and diesel surged, gas stations run by security forces were rationing fuel, allowing every owner of two-wheeler to purchase petrol worth only Rs500.
The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), the state-owned petroleum monopoly, and petroleum dealers said panic buying due to ongoing protests in a number of districts in the Tarai had led to a shortage of petroleum products in the Valley.
For the last few days, the Madhes-based political parties have enforced a general strike to protest police killings in Saptari on Monday. Three people were killed on Monday and two others succumbed to bullet injuries on Wednesday and Friday. The deceases were among the supporters of the Madhes-based parties protesting against an election rally organised by the CPN-UML.
“The protests [in the Tarai] led to panic buying as all our fuel supplies come from districts in the Tarai,” said NOC Spokesperson Sitaram Pokharel. “To ease the situation, we have distributed sufficient quantity of petroleum products in the last two days.”
The NOC, according to Pokharel, distributed 776 kilolitres and 500kl of petrol on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The daily demand of petrol in the Valley stands at around 400-450kl on normal days.
Pokharel said the NOC has been ferrying fuel from India in the evening since protests started in the Tarai. According to him, the NOC is receiving adequate supply of petroleum products from Indian Oil Corporation’s refinery in Barauni. Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, also echoed Pokharel.
“Due to fear of possible shortage, many motorists are buying more fuel than needed to keep adequate stock. As a result, demand of fuel in the Valley has doubled now,” said Pradhan, adding, “NOC has been supplying adequate fuel to private petrol pumps on a daily basis.”
Pradhan, however, said NOC’s inability to distribute fuel on Wednesday, a public holiday, may have worsened the situation. The NOC usually does not distribute fuel on public holidays and weekends.
“In order to fill the gap created during public holidays and weekends, the NOC must increase the supply of fuel during working days,” Pradhan said. “The NOC should also expand its storage capacity to ensure small problems do not create crippling shortage of fuel.”