Many consumers still cannot get cooking gas even though adequate stocks exist to satisfy all the customers by distributing half-filled cylinders.
As per the data of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), it imported enough liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) during the period mid-December to mid-January to half-fill 1.2 million cylinders.
During the pre-embargo period of mid-July to mid-August, LPG shipments totalled 16,053 tonnes, and they were enough to fully fill 1,114,791 cylinders. Last month, LPG imports amounted to 9,142 tonnes, or enough to half-fill 1,269,722 cylinders. But people have not been able to buy cooking gas for months. The government has rationed cooking gas by directing gas plants to issue half-filled cylinders so that people can get at least some fuel.
Gas sellers and consumer rights activists have blamed the poor distribution mechanism for their plight. They have also accused NOC officials of working in collusion with black marketeers. Besides an increase in demand, the cold season has also affected gas distribution. Chandra Thapa, general secretary of the Nepal Gas Dealers’ Federation, said that panic buying stemming from the prolonged shortage had made it difficult to distribute LPG to all the consumers. “In addition, falling temperatures and lengthening load-shedding have widened the gap between supply and demand.”
NOC’s records show that gas imports dropped from 20,639 tonnes before the embargo to 4,498 tonnes during the period mid-September to mid-October 2015, or right after the start of the Indian blockade.
Supplies swelled to 9,142 tonnes between mid-December and mid-January. The increase in shipments has been attributed to NOC’s re-routing gas bullets from the Birgunj-Raxaul border point and the lifting of the blockade at other border points.
Thapa said that the absence of an effective distribution system had also resulted in the uneven distribution of cooking gas.
“As a result, a number of consumers have received LPG multiple times in a month while many others have been waiting to get the fuel for the last two months.”
However, consumer rights activists have blamed the uneven distribution on the black marketeering being promoted by government authorities and gas bottlers.
Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumers Rights Investigation Forum, said many commercial sectors including hotels were getting large quantities of cooking
gas depriving the general public of their share. “Based on the recommendation of high government officials, bottlers have been dispatching their products directly to selected consumers instead of distributing them through their dealers.”
Meanwhile, supplies of other petroleum products have also improved in the last month, according to NOC records. Petrol supplies increased to 7,753 kilolitres between mid-December and mid-January from 6,113 kilolitres in the previous one-month period.
Diesel shipments swelled to 34,699 kilolitres from 23,904 kilolitres, kerosene to 1,016 kilolitres from 336 kilolitres and aviation fuel to 3,739 kilolitres from 2,783 kilolitres during the same period.
Source: The Kathmandu Post